After Canada secured top spot in Group A with an 8-0 win over Denmark on Saturday night, Sunday’s clash between Finland and the USA was to determine the second seed in that half of the draw.
The Americans started off the scoring early in the first. A collision at centre ice gave Team USA an odd-man rush. After Riley Tufte’s shot was blocked, Trent Frederic followed up and sent a change-up past Finnish goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen for the game’s first goal.
Bruins prospect Trent Frederic gets his first goal of the WJC pic.twitter.com/Z7H1BrfKqr— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 31, 2017
With six minutes left in the opening period, Finland finally had some chances to score while on the power play, but three or four shots from right in front of the net just missed the mark.
The misses proved costly when the USA got the puck at the other end, and completed a three-way passing play through wide-open lanes. Casey Mittelstadt continued his great tournament with his fourth goal.
With the Finns already down a man, Ryan Poehling drew a penalty from Aapeli Räsänen to put the US on a 5-on-3. It took just a few seconds for the puck to spill to Joey Anderson at the side of the net to make it a 3-0 lead.
Räsänen got out of the box and helped launch a counter-attack. After giving the puck to Eeli Tolavanen, he got it back and fired a perfect shot under the bar to get his team on the board.
With just over a minute left in the middle period, Tolvanen unleashed a shot of his own from the faceoff circle while on the power play, and the KHL standout made it a one-goal game.
Tolvanen with the blast for Finland pic.twitter.com/EYUr0IoAtg— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 31, 2017
Rasanen returned to the box immediately after the goal, and watched the Americans score while he was in the box for the second time. Adam Fox moved in and sent the puck to the front of the goal, and Anderson was able to spin and fires it into the net, giving the US a two-goal cushion for the final period.
Joey Anderson with the rare turnaround slapperoo pic.twitter.com/1puw5bx7VN— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 31, 2017
Despite being short-handed and facing the possibility of going down by three goals, Finland got the puck and headed toward the US end around the midway point of the third. Joona Koppanen kept the puck and fired, banking it off the far post and in.
Bruins prospect Joona Koppanen with the snipe pic.twitter.com/Djxb6w5fLE— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 31, 2017
The lead evaporated for the US 66 second later when the Finns got back into the offensive zone. Kristian Vesalainen fired a shot from the slot, tying things up at four goals apiece to set up an entertaining finish.
The Americans took back control after the Finns tied it up, and had a few chances to score in the closing minutes. They finally beat Luukkonen when Mittelstadt picked out Fox rushing through the neutral zone at full speed, and used his speed to go in alone to score the go-ahead goal.
Adam Fox comes up with a huge goal to give USA a late lead over Finland pic.twitter.com/xk8IdQr5b1— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 31, 2017
The Finns were unable to get anything going in the final seconds, and fell by a 5-4 score.
Team USA claimed second spot in Group A with the win. Finland finishes third and will play the second seed from Group B in the quarter-finals, which are all played on Tuesday.