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GAME DAY | Team USA and Finland to Battle in Final Preliminary Game

By USA Hockey, 04/30/24, 4:45AM EDT

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Two teams enter matchup undefeated; puck drops at 11:00 am ET on NHL Network

ESPOO, Finland – This evening's game between the United States and Finland marks the final of four preliminary round games of the 2024 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship for the U.S. Puck drop is set for 6 p.m. local / 11 a.m. ET and the game can be seen live on NHL Network.

The U.S. and Finland have met on 20 different occasions, and with their 21st matchup tonight, will tie Russia and Sweden for the most commonly played opponent for Team USA in U18 Championship history. The United States holds a 12-2-0-6 (W-OTW-OTL-L) overall record against the Finns, with 13 of those games coming in the preliminary round. In prelim action, the U.S. is 9-1-0-3, including an 8-4 win in last year's tournament. Overall, Team USA is on a three-game winning streak in round-robin games. 

Both sides come into tonight having swept the prior Group A action. The U.S. has earned wins of 9-0 over Slovakia, 8-2 over Norway and 7-1 in their last time out over Latvia. Trevor Connelly (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) was the star of the Latvia win, potting two goals and adding a pair of assists for four total points on the night. Starting netminder Nick Kempf (Chicago, Ill.) was a horse in net, beginning his night with 15 stops in the opening frame, including thwarting a quartet of high-danger chances from the Latvians en route to picking up his second win of the tournament. 

On the other side, host Finland has disposed of its competition, garnering wins over Latvia (3-1), Norway (7-0) and Slovakia (4-0) in their first trio of games. Goaltender Petteri Rimpinen has been the top player for Finland, winning both of his starts with a tournament-best 0.50 goals-against average and .957 save percentage, second only to Kempf. 

Offensively, the Finns are led by projected 1st-round pick Konsta Helenius, who has posted six points, all assists, but has a team-high 19 shots on net through three games. Emil Hemming leads the team with four scores, all on the man advantage. A big key for Team USA will be staying out of the penalty box, something that they've been great at as they are the least penalized nation at this point in the tournament. 

The winner of this game will finish atop Group A standings, while the loser will draw the two seed heading into Quarterfinal action on Thursday. 

USA 7, LATVIA 1

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