It's New Years Eve here in Victoria, British Columbia, and Team USA is gearing up for its final preliminary round game of Group B. Puck drop against Finland -- in a game that will determine the second and third seeds of Group B -- is set for 7:30 p.m. local time (10:30 p.m. ET) live on NHL Network.
U.S. PACING THE TOURNAMENT
The U.S. ranks among the top-three in six statistics. Chief among them is Team USA's tournament-best special teams, as its powerplay is performing at a 41.6% success rate while its penalty kill has successfully defended all seven of its tournament-low penalties. Additionally, the team's 129 shots lead all teams while its 60 shots allowed is the second-lowest of any team. The U.S. is also one of two teams (Russia) to score a shorthanded tally. Ryan Poehling (Lakeville, Minn./St. Cloud State University) is tied for the tournament lead with seven points and shares third-place in goals with four. Jason Robertson's (Northville, Mich./Niagara IceDogs) four assists is tied for the most among skaters while Sasha Chmelevski (Northville, Mich./Ottawa 67's) ranks second in faceoff percentage with 70%. Additionally, captain Mikey Anderson(Roseville, Minn./University of Minnesota Duluth) and his three points (2-1) is fifth-highest among blueliners.
TEAM USA ON NEW YEAR'S EVE
This is the 14th straight year the U.S. closes preliminary round play on New Year's Eve. In that span the U.S. holds a 6-1-1-5 record (W-OTW-OTL-L), including a 6-1-0-0 record against European teams. Its last New Year's Eve defeat came at the 2015 event.
According to the IIHF Record Book, Team USA's four-goal comeback with 10:26 in regulation is the latest comeback bid in tournament history. In 1990, Finland led 4-0 at 14:55 of the second period before the Soviet Union scored five goals to take a 5-4 lead until Finland rallied for a 5-5 final.
TOP PROSPECTS REMINISCENT OF 2016
For the second time in four IIHF World Junior Championships, the U.S. and Finland have the projected top two NHL Draft-eligible players as Jack Hughes (Orlando, Fla./U.S. Nat'l U18 Team) and Kaapo Kakko are rated first and second by NHL Central Scouting. In 2016, it was Team USA's Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Finland's Patrik Laine, who each helped their teams medal as the U.S. who bronze while Finland captured gold on home ice. At the 2016 NHL Draft, Matthews became the seventh American-born player selected first overall while Laine was taken second.