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USA Sinks Finland, 4-3; Clinches Top Seed in Group B

04/22/2014, 12:00pm MDT
By USA Hockey

Photos by Richard Wolowicz (HHOF-IIHF Images).

LAPPEENRANTA, Finland - Kyle Connor (Shelby Township, Mich.) extended his scoring streak to four games, and Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass.) scored the game-winning goal, as the U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team defeated Finland, 4-3, here tonight at Lappeenranta Arena. With the win, Team USA clinches the top seed in Group B at the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation Men's Under-18 World Championship with a 3-0-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record.

Finland opened the scoring at the 9:54 mark of the first frame. Late in the opening period, Finland was whistled for a tripping call on Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich.). Nine seconds later on the ensuing power play, Noah Hanifin (Norwood, Mass.) collected the puck and threw a hard shot at the net that snuck past Kaapo Kahkonen to knot the game at one goal apiece.

Team USA took the lead 19 seconds into the second stanza when Larkin found Anders Bjork (Mequon, Wis.) near the top of the faceoff circle. Bjork fired a wrist shot to beat Kahkonen for the score. Back-to-back tallies by the Finns at 5:42 and 13:53 reclaimed the lead for the hosts before Connor answered for the United States with less than one second showing on the scoreboard. Hanifin and Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.) assisted on the play.

The final frame remained scoreless, and the game tied, until 1:04 remained in the contest. Eichel took a pass from Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y.) and tucked the puck between his legs onto his forehand. Eichel quickly fired a shot that caromed off Kahkonen and into the net to secure the 4-3 victory for Team USA.

The U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team will next skate in the quarterfinals of the U18 World Championship on Thursday (April 24) at 6 a.m. EDT. Having earned the top seed in Group B, Team USA will cross over to face Slovakia, the fourth seed in Group A. The game will be broadcast live on FASTHockey.

Notes

  • Team USA outshot Finland, 46-20.
  • Dylan Larkin was named Team USA's best player, while Finland's best player was announced as Miro Keskitalo.
  • Sonny Milano has at least one point in all four preliminary-round games, including two goals and four assists. He ranks tied for seventh in tournament points. Factoring in the pre-tournament game versus Germany, the forward has nine points (4-5) in five games.
  • Kyle Connor holds a four-game scoring streak, netting one goal in each of Team USA's preliminary round games, placing him tied for second in the tournament in goals scored. The Youngstown Phantoms product also scored in the pre-tournament contest against Germany.
  • Jack Eichel is riding a three-game point streak after being held without a point in the first preliminary round game versus Switzerland. The forward has three goals and two assists over that span.
  • Auston Matthews is also enjoying a three-game point streak. The forward has netted one goal and collected two assists in games against the Czech Republic, Denmark and Finland.
  • Noah Hanifin ranks tied for second in points among defensemen in the tournament. The blueliner has one goal and three assists in four games.
  • The U.S. enters the tournament having captured a record 10-consecutive medals, including back-to-back golds in 2005-06 and four-straight gold medals from 2009-12; three silver medals (2004, 2007, 2013); and one bronze medal (2008).
  • Team USA's seven gold medals are the most of any country in IIHF Men's Under-18 World Championship history. The event began in 1999. Team USA earned its first gold medal in 2002.
  • The U.S. will play in Group B alongside the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland and Switzerland. Group A consists of Canada, Germany, Russia, Slovakia and Sweden.
  • Follow @USAHockeyScores on Twitter for live scoring updates during the tournament. Scores will be designated with the #U18Worlds tag.
  • For additional coverage, visit the NTDP Facebook page and follow @USANTDP on Twitter.
  • All U.S. games will be broadcast live on FASTHockey free of charge.

Date Opponent Results
April 14 Germany* W, 9-1
April 17 Switzerland L, 2-4
April 19 Czech Republic W, 3-0
April 20 Denmark W, 7-0
April 22 Finland W, 4-3
April 24 Slovakia - Quarterfinals W, 6-2
April 26 Sweden - Semifinals W, 4-1
April 27 Czech Republic - Gold Medal W, 5-2

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Tag(s): News  Team USA  2014