U.S. eliminated from WJC in 1-0 quarterfinal loss to Finland
Finland’s Toni Utunen reaches for the puck on the stick of Team USA’s Cole Caufield.
The United States heads home from the IIHF World Junior Championship after losing to Finland for the second consecutive season.
This time it was a 1-0 decision in the quarterfinals on Thursday in Trinec, the Czech Republic, that eliminated Team USA.
The U.S. lost to Finland in the gold medal game last year in British Columbia. Thursday’s loss also ends the United States’ four-year medal streak in the WJC.
"It stinks. We came together three weeks ago and became close as a team,” center Alex Turcotte said on the IIHF website. “Everyone's sacrificing. You're not home with your family. Everyone's doing their best to win gold. To come up short and not even medal, it's obviously tough."
Goalie Spencer Knight made 28 saves. The only shot he couldn’t stop came off the stick of Joonas Oden during a Finland power play 4:23 into the third period.
Oden, who was born in Benton City, Washington, one-timed a shot from the slot past Knight.
"It was a very tight game, back and forth," Knight said. "I think Finland played great and we played great. That's just how it is. These one-game series, where it's just do or die in one game, it's kind of tough. Just bounces and who wants it more."
U.S. defenseman Zac Jones hit the goal post with less than five minutes left in the second period.
“I thought this group that we have was growing, but tonight we were chasing the game and didn’t have it,” U.S. coach Scott Sandelin said on the USA Hockey website. “There are some guys in there who will have a chance at this again, I hope they all learn from it moving forward.”
The U.S. pulled Knight for an extra attacker and a 6-4 advantage with 1:15 left but could not get the equalizer.
Team USA finishes the tournament 2-2-1-0 (W-L-OTW-OTL).
Finland will face Canada in one semifinal and Sweden will play Russia in the other semifinal on Saturday. The gold-medal and bronze-medal games are on Sunday.
Canada beat Slovakia 6-1 on Thursday as Alexis Lafreniere, projected top overall pick in the 2020 NHL draft, returned from a knee injury with a goal and an assist; Russia defeated Switzerland 3-1, and Sweden took care of the host Czech Republic 5-0.