United States vs. Finland. We’ve seen this before.
Less than a year removed from a heartbreaking loss in the gold medal game — on a goal by Kaapo Kakko with under two minutes remaining — the U.S. meets Finland again when the two nations square off in the 2020 edition’s quarterfinals.
Like last year, the United States and Finland enter the game as the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds from their respective groups; but these two teams are pretty even in when you delve into the stats. Both teams have a scoring efficiency in the 13-percent range; however, the Finns have a slightly better team save percentage at .915 to the American’s (.879). While both teams hold similar efficiency on the power play, the Suomi has been effective at killing off the man advantage (85 percent).
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All eyes will be on Anaheim Ducks draft pick Trevor Zegras in this one. The American finished the preliminary round as the tournament’s scoring leader with — only — assists (nine). New York native and Ottawa Senators prospect Shane Pinto has also dazzled, netting four goals in four games and the U.S. hopes sniper Cole Caufield has come around after lighting the lamp with the overtime game-winner against the Czechs on Monday.
Goaltender Spencer Knight, who has looked solid between the pipes since letting up six to the Canadians on Boxing Day, will have his hands full in this one. Finland has a handful of the tournaments top scorers in Patrik Puistola (Carolina Hurricanes) and Kristian Tanus and a blue line filled with big-time playmakers and shooters in Ville Heinola (Winnipeg Jets), Lassi Thomson (Ottawa Senators), Anttoni Honka (Carolina Hurricanes) and Mikko Kokkonen (Toronto Maple Leafs).
The meeting marks the first time since 2015 that there is a gold medal rematch in the following year’s semifinals. Sweden got revenge the following year against the Finns. Will the U.S. get the same result?
Sporting News has all the action as the United States and Finland look to take one step closer to gold at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.
USA vs. Finland updates, highlights from 2020 World Juniors quarterfinals
(All times are Eastern)
1:51 p.m — Three minutes left.
1:50 p.m. — John Beecher drives down the left wing and cuts to the net but Annunen with the stick down makes the stop.
1:49 p.m. — Under five minutes remaining in the game. U.S. needs one.
1:38 p.m. — Defenseman Ty Emberson cuts down the middle, gets the puck and a quality scoring chance but the same result: Annunen save.
1:34 p.m. — Oliver Wahlstrom trying to get on the board gets a shot off despite being a Finnish defender in his face.
1:32 p.m. — Now its Finland controlling the play and keeping the Americans pinned in their own end with just over 12 minutes remaining.
1:30 p.m. — United States has picked up the pace. Mattias Samuelsson point shot is stopped with a big kick save.
1:27 p.m. — PP GOAL. Kristian Tanus with the no-look pass to Joonas Oden in the slot and Oden just rips it home. USA trails 1-0.
1:26 p.m. — Then Drury called for a questionable tripping call and the Americans will be shorthanded.
1:25 p.m. — Trevor Zegras with another ridiculous pass and finds Jack Drury in front but he’s stopped. The puck is left sitting before the Finns clear it.
1:23 p.m. — Finland with a couple of early chances but Spencer Knight keeps it scoreless.
1:19 p.m. — Puck has dropped for the third period.
1:14 p.m. — USA now outshooting Finland 23-16
Second period: USA 0, Finland 0
1:02 p.m. — The second period ends just like the first: scoreless.
12:55 p.m. — Virginia native Zac Jones gets the puck between the circles and rifles the wrister off the crossbar. Team USA comes oh so close. Looking at the replay below may have been deflected at some point but, either way, it did not tickle the twine
12:45 p.m. — Alex Turcott tries to stuff it in shortside but is denied and the power play expires a few seconds later.
12:44 p.m. — Nick Robertson with a big shot down low from the bottom portion of the right circle but Annunen makes the stop.
12:43 p.m. — U.S. head to the power play. They are 6-for-21 with the man advantage in the tourney. Finland has the second-best penalty kill (85 percent).
12:40 p.m. — Another turnover by the Americans and Sampo Ranta breaks in but Spencer Stastney with a fantastic backcheck and defensive play. Ranta, who plays at the University of Minnesota, doesn’t even get a shot.
12:38 p.m. — The momentum has swung in the Finns’ advantage and they break out 3-on-1 as the Americans get caught deep on a broken play. Spencer Knight with a key stop on a driving Matias Maccelli (Arizona Coyotes).
12:37 p.m. — By the way: The U.S. is wearing the white threads the 1960 Olympic team wore when they captured the United States’ first-ever gold medal. Also, the same jerseys they wore when they lost to Canada on Boxing Day . . .
12:35 p.m. — Americans getting chances but the Finnish netminder Annunen — a Colorado Avalanche prospect — is getting it done.
12:30 p.m. — USA comes out hard but Justus Annunen robs Nick Robertson on a one-timer in the high-danger zone and then Shane Pinto’s backhander from the slot is denied.
12:29 p.m. — Second period underway.
12:27 p.m. — Shots in that first period were: 11 for the United States and 10 for Finland. Pretty even as expected but the U.S. has to stay out of the box.
First period: USA 0, Finland 0
12:09 p.m. — Back to even strength and it’s still scoreless. Americans with some big-time blocks on the kill.
Another huge penalty kill and yet another big blocked shot by Jack Drury (CAR). Young man is a Harvard-educated puck eater.
— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) January 2, 2020
12:06 p.m. — Just prior to the Beecher hit, Alex Turcotte got leveled.
12:05 p.m. — Big check by John Beecher right near benches that leads to some pushing and shoving. Eemil Erholtz looks to be okay despite the hit from behind and that it looked like his face met the edge of the bench. Beecher just gets two.
11:57 a.m. — Players on the United States returning from last year’s silver-medal winning squad: Jack Drury, Oliver Wahlstrom, K’Andre Miller, Mattias Samuelsson and Spencer Knight. Anttoni Honka, Ville Heinola, Toni Utunen and Rasmus Kupari won gold in 2019.
11:52 a.m. — Americans kill off the double minor. Still scoreless at Werk Arena
11:49 a.m. — Massive block by Shane Pinto on a rocket from the point.
11:46 a.m. — Alex Turcotte called for the high-stick, and he drew blood, so it’s a four-minute penalty kill for the U.S. Finland enters the game with five power-play goals on 17 chances; USA has allowed seven on 20.
11:39 a.m. — Jack Drury takes an elbow to the face from Kristian Tanus but there is no call.
11:38 a.m. — Game on.
11:00 a.m. —Full lineups.
10:20 a.m. — USA lines are here.