EDMONTON, Alberta – Cole Caufield (Stevens Point, Wis.) scored twice and Trevor Zegras (Bedford, N.Y.) added two assists to propel the U.S. National Junior Team to a 3-2 victory over Finland tonight in its first and only pre-tournament game ahead of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship.
“I thought tonight was good overall, I thought some guys were a little tight in the first 10 minutes but that’s what these pre-tournaments games are for,” said head coach Nate Leaman (Providence, R.I.). “I’m glad we played Finland, they’re a really good team, and we found some things that we’re good at and they showed us some of our weaknesses. It’s important we had this game tonight to help us prepare for the next step in the tournament.”
Finland got off to an early lead, scoring on the power play 1:26 into the contest. The U.S. evened the game with a power play goal of its own with just :06 left in the opening period when Arthur Kaliyev (Staten Island, N.Y.) slid the puck past Finland netminder Kari Piiroinen from out in front, after receiving a slick feed from Matthew Boldy (Millis, Mass.). The U.S. had the final 13 shots of the opening stanza, aided by four power plays in the second half of the period.
Caufield scored goals :25 apart in the first 1:39 of the second period to stake the U.S. to a 3-1 lead. He struck first with a one-timer delivered from Zegras, and then followed with a backhander into the upper corner as he peeled around the side of net. Jake Sanderson (Whitefish, Mont.) collected the puck at the blue line, making a great to play to push the puck ahead to Caufield. Finland scored on the power play at 8:23 in what would be the game’s final goal.
Dustin Wolf (Gilroy, Calif.), who played the second half of the game in net for Team USA, stopped all six shots he faced in the final frame to preserve the U.S. lead. Spencer Knight (Darien, Conn.) started the game and made seven saves on nine shots, including back-to-back scoring chances prior to yielding the net to Wolf.
The U.S. will open play in the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship against Russia on Friday (Dec. 25) with puck drop scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast live on NHL Network.
NOTES: Cole Caufield (Stevens Point, Wis.) was named U.S. Player of the Game … Team USA outshot Finland, 45-16 ... For complete game statistics, click here … For more information about the tournament, click here.