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Finland Wins Gold at World Junior Championship

World Junior Championship

Team Finland has won the 2019 World Junior Championship. It is their third gold medal since 2013. Team USA receives their first silver medal since 1997. 2019 NHL Draft Prospect Kaapo Kakko scored the winning goal with 1:26 left to play in the third period. It was Kakko’s second goal and fifth point of the tournament in seven games.  Fellow 2019 Prospect, Team USA’s Jack Hughes had an assist, giving him four points in four tournament games.

Wins Gold at World Junior Championship

In a hard-fought, fast-paced game, the WJC finally comes to a thrilling conclusion. Coming into the gold medal game, USA was ranked first in the tournament on the power play. However, after five opportunities, Finland’s penalty kill was stifling.

First Period

At 10:15 in the first round, a scramble in front of the crease saw Oliver Wahlstrom seemingly put Team USA up 1-0. It was immediately waved off and after much review, the call stood. The goal was disallowed due to Sasha Chmelevski being held in the crease despite backing out of the blue paint prior to the puck entering the net.

Finnish captain Aarne Talvitie went into the boards awkwardly. While battling for the puck with USA’s captain Mikey Anderson, Talvitie sustained a leg injury he’d carefully skate off with. He came back to the bench but did not skate for the remainder of the period.

A subsequent USA power play quickly followed by one for Finland both came up fruitless. Despite a few solid opportunities on special teams America recorded nine shots to Finland’s 13. Both teams headed to the locker rooms scoreless.

Second Period

After two more chances on the man advantage, Team USA still could not put one past goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. Finland’s goalie was as dominant as their penalty kill. However, it was their power play that finally broke open the scoring. American forward Evan Barratt‘s penalty for goalie interference gave the Fins the chance they were looking for. Off the faceoff, defenseman Oskari Laaksonen found his fellow blueliner Jesse Ylonen open for the one timer. Ylonen fired a rocket past US goaltender Cayden Primeau to put Finland up 1-0.

Each team had further quality chances both at even strength and on their power plays. USA prevented all shots on their opponents’ final power play before the end of the second period. Nevertheless, each goalie came up huge and kept the short lead manageable. After 40 minutes of play, Finland maintained their shot advantage with 22 to USA’s 17.

Third Period

In the final period of regulation, Finland continued their dominance. Forward Rasmus Kupari lobbed a shot towards the net. Primeau couldn’t see the puck before it ended up behind him extending the lead to two for the guys in blue.

USA had their backs against the wall. Trailing 2-0, however, they never slowed down. Following a multitude of solid chances, Chmelevski finally got America on the board. With 12:59 left in the third period, he picked up the puck in the slot, made some nifty moves, and lost the puck. Never giving up on the play, the forward threw it on net and finally put one past Luukkonen.

Chmelevski wasn’t about to stop there. Shortly after, he fed defenseman Josh Norris with a beautiful backhand pass across the ice. Norris one-timed the puck into a wide open net and tied the game. Two goals within a minute and 46 seconds kept the game tied late.

It was not enough as Kakko found a winner late.


Tournament awards went to:

Ryan Poehling, USA (Top Forward of the Tourney, Tournament MVP)
Alexander Romanov, Russia (Top Defenceman of the Tourney)
Pyotr Kochetkov, Russia (Top Goaltender of the Tourney)

Tournament All-Stars

G Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen – Finland
D Alexander Romanov – Russia
D Erik Brannstrom – Sweden
F Grigori Denisenko – Russia
F Phillipp Kurashev – Switzerland
F Ryan Poehling – USA

Embed from Getty Images


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