MONCTON, New Brunswick – Jimmy Snuggerud (Chaska, Minn.) notched a goal and three assists and Logan Cooley (West Mifflin, Pa.) had a goal and two assists to lead the U.S. National Junior Team to a 6-2 victory over Finland tonight at Avenir Centre in its final preliminary round game of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.
With the win, Team USA advances to the quarterfinals as the top seed in Group B and will face Germany on Monday (Jan. 2) at the Avenir Centre. Opening faceoff is set for 5:00 p.m. local time/4:00 p.m. ET and the game can be seen live on NHL Network.
“I thought our compete level was excellent tonight,” said Rand Pecknold, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team and also the head men’s ice hockey coach at Quinnipiac University. “Our puck management was great and we took another step forward against a good Finland team."
The U.S. was the first to score after Ryan Ufko (Smithtown, N.Y.) fired a shot just wide from the slot and Chaz Lucius (Grant, Minn.) picked up the puck as it bounced off the boards and slipped it past Finnish goaltender Aku Koskenvuo with 4:38 left in the first. Jackson Blake (Fargo, N.D.) also earned an assist on the goal.
Finland answered back just over a minute later on the power play, with a wrister that deflected off the crossbar and in.
With the U.S. on the power play early in the second, Rutger McGroarty (Lincoln, Neb.) capitalized. Team USA captain Luke Hughes (Canton, Mich.) carried the puck down center ice and into the zone, then made a drop pass to McGroarty, who sent a one-timer through the five-hole at 4:57.
Snuggerud made it 3-1 for the U.S. at 9:02 after stealing the puck from a Finnish defender, making a quick spin in the slot, and firing home a backhander from the bottom of the left circle.
Hughes gave the U.S. a 4-1 lead with 5:12 left in the period, burying a wrist shot from just above the right circle. Cooley and Snuggerud each tallied an assist on the goal. Finland scored with 4:45 left in the middle frame and the U.S. had a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes.
Cooley found the back of the net 3:55 into the third, banging home a rebound from the slot off after an initial shot from Snuggerud. Cutter Gauthier (Scottsdale, Ariz.) earned an assist as well.
Lane Hutson (Chicago, Ill.) rounded out scoring with 3:45 remaining in the game, sending the puck short side off a backhand feed from Snuggerud to bring the final tally to 6-2. Cooley picked up his second assist of the game on the play.
Trey Augustine (South Lyon, Mich.) finished with 29 saves in the U.S. net.
NOTES: Jimmy Snuggerud was named the U.S. Player of the Game … The U.S. was 1-3 on the power play, while Finland was 1-5 … Finland outshot the U.S. by a 31-30 count … Ten different U.S. players recorded points … For Team USA’s roster and schedule, click here.