CHN Staff Report
A third-period rally ultimately went for naught, as Team USA lost to Finland, 3-2, in the gold-medal game of the 2019 World Junior Championships on Saturday. The U.S., which includes 18 current NCAA players plus head coach Mike Hastings (Minnesota State), wins the silver, and earned a medal for the fourth straight year.
Down 2-0 in the third, Team USA got goals from Sasha Chmelevski and Michigan’s Josh Norris to tie the game.
With the U.S. surging, Jack Hughes — younger brother of Michigan’s Quinn Hughes and the projected No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NHL Draft — had a breakaway that was stuffed by Finland goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, while a shot by Boston College’s Oliver Wahlstrom was also denied.
Finland, however, broke the hearts of the Americans by scoring with just 1:26 remaining, as Kaapo Kakko jumped on a loose puck alongside the net after a shot from the point off the stick of Anton Lundell.
“We put forth a lot of effort, had a good third period, fought through some adversity early in the game, and gave ourselves a chance,” Hastings said. “At the end of the day, you want to give yourself a chance. … We had opportunities to get a lead and we didn’t. Congrats to Finland because they earned it, but I’m very proud of what our group accomplished in this tournament.”
The U.S. thought it took the lead in the first period, with Wahlstrom banging in a loose puck. But the officials ruled that there was goaltender interference on the play, nullifying the goal. The call stood after video review.
With less than four minutes left in the opening period, Northeastern’s Cayden Primeau made a big save on Finland forward Eeli Tolvanen after a puck slid out to Tolvanen in the low circle. Quinn Hughes was called for a hook with 3:12 left in the period, although the U.S. might’ve had the best chance while shorthanded. Chmelevski took a feed that was laid off by Boston University’s Logan Cockerill while he circled behind the net.
It was Finland, however, that got on the board first, scoring in the second period on a power play. Then adding one early in the third.
St. Cloud State’s Ryan Poehing was named Tournament MVP and Best Forward of the tournament, finishing with five goals and three assists.
“You have to start with the group of five returners that we have, who were strong enough to take the role of leadership,” Hastings said. “Everything that they did. The growth factor is their responsibiltiy and they took it and ran with it. From the adversity we faced in the Sweden game until now. I know it hurts right now, but we should feel proud.”
Originally published at https://www.collegehockeynews.com/news/2019/01/05_US-Falls-Just-Short-of.php