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U.S. Defeats Finland, 3-2, in World Junior Semifinals

By USA Hockey, 01/04/24, 5:30PM EST

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Team USA to face host Sweden in gold medal game tomorrow

GOTHENBURG, Sweden — Cutter Gauthier (Scottsdale, Ariz./Boston College/Philadelphia Flyers) scored on the power play with 3:13 left in the third period to lift the U.S. National Junior Team to a 3-2 come-from-behind win in the semifinals of the 2024 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship here tonight and send the U.S. to tomorrow’s (Jan. 5) gold-medal game against Sweden.

“I’m proud of our guys,” said U.S. head coach David Carle (Anchorage, Alaska/University of Denver), whose team trailed 2-0 after the opening 20 minutes. “Even though we were down, I didn’t mind our first period and there was no panic in the room. Our special teams and goaltending were excellent and we’re excited to have the chance to play for a gold medal tomorrow.”

The U.S. nearly took the lead just more than a minute into the game after Gavin Brindley (Estero, Fla./University of Michigan/Columbus Blue Jackets) was on the receiving end of a feed from Frank Nazar (Mt. Clemens, Mich./University of Michigan/Chicago Blackhawks) and had a great chance from the circle, but Finnish netminder Niklas Kokko made the save.

A turnover in front of U.S. netminder Trey Augustine (South Lyon, Mich./Michigan State University/Detroit Red Wings) led to Oiva Keskinen poking home the rebound of an initial shot at 1:51.

HIGHLIGHTS

Finland’s Rasmus Kumpulainen deflected a shot from the point in front of the crease at 12:45 and Finland had a 2-0 edge after one.

Will Smith (Lexington, Mass./Boston College, San Jose Sharks) nearly put the U.S. on the board early in the second after Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass./Boston College/Washington Capitals) found him on a two-on-one, but Smith’s shot sailed wide of the net.

The U.S. got its first goal of the game on the power play at 12:10. Smith handled the puck in the corner and passed to Seamus Casey (Fort Meyers, Fla./University of Michigan/New Jersey Devils) on the point where he sent a cross-ice feed to Jimmy Snuggerud (Chaska, Minn./University of Minnesota/St. Louis Blues) who netted a one-timer from the top of the circle to cut the lead to 2-1.

Team USA evened the game just over four minutes later when Ryan Chesley (Mahtomedi, Minn./University of Minnesota/Washington Capitals) sent the puck into the corner from the point for Gabe Perreault (Hinsdale, Ill./Boston College/New York Rangers), who threaded a pass to Smith across the slot, leaving him with an empty net to bury the puck. Team USA put 14 shots on net in the middle stanza and limited Finland to just three.

Finland went on the power play 4:48 into the third period, but the U.S. shut them down.

The U.S. had its second power play of the game with five minutes remaining in regulation and Gauthier wristed a shot from the circle into the top corner with Hutson and Brindley contributing assists.

Finland had their own power play chance with 2:33 left on the clock and pulled their netminder for a 6-on-4 advantage during the man advantage. The U.S. penalty kill, led by Augustine, who made a stellar toe save late in the game, held strong to send Team USA to the gold-medal game at 7:30 p.m. local/1:30 p.m. ET tomorrow on NHL Network.

Augustine won his seventh career game in the World Juniors and had 19 saves.

NOTES: Team USA’s three best players of the tournament were named following the game and included Cutter Gauthier, Gavin Brindley and Lane HutsonCutter Gauthier was named the U.S. Player of the Game … The U.S. outshot Finland 30-21 … The U.S. was 2-2 on the power play, while Finland was 0-2.

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