FRISCO, Texas - The U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team finishes out preliminary round play as it hosts Finland tonight at Comerica Center. Puck drop is slated for 8:00 pm CT / 9:00 pm ET and the game is streamed live on HockeyTV.com.
The U.S. last played Thursday evening when they came from behind to eventually beat the Czech Republic, 2-1, in a shootout. Sasha Pastujov (Bradenton, Fla.) scored in the third period to become the only American skater to record a point in each of the team's first three games. Defenseman Lane Hutson (Barrington, Ill.), who assisted on Pastujov's tally and later scored the lone goal of the 10-person shootout, leads the blueliners with four points. Team USA goaltender Kaidan Mbereko (Aspen, Colo.) turned in an excellent performance in the cage as he turned aside 30 Czech shots in his first IIHF win.
The Group B standings are all grouped together and with one game left to play for the top four teams, three different countries have an opportunity to win the group. If the Czech Republic can take any points from Russia in the earlier Group B game, then Team USA will have a shot to win the group with a regulation win over Finland. While having clinched a spot in the quarterfinals, the U.S. could enter seeded anywhere from first thru fourth.
Finland has been impressive throughout its first three games of the U18 Men's World Championship, winning all three with a 2-1-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record and sitting atop Group B with eight total points. Yesterday, the Finns put up 10 goals, including five in the first 13:13, in a shutout victory over Germany. Five of those scores came on the power play so it will be imperative for Team USA to stay out of the penalty box as much as possible tonight.
Today’s Opponent: Finland
The U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team and Finland have become budding rivals in this competition over the past few tournaments, having played each other in three of the past five gold-medal games, two going to Team USA. The U.S. holds an 11-10-6-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L-T) all-time record against the Finns with a 7-0-0-4-0 record in preliminary round play. The last time the two sides faced off in the prelims was in 2015 when the Americans edged out a 4-3 victory. The last matchup of any sort was in the 2019 quarterfinals, a 6-0 win for the U.S. that saw three goals from Jack Hughes (Orlando, Fla.) and a 21-save shutout by Spencer Knight (Darien, Conn.).