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GAME DAY: USA Meets Finland in U18 Gold Medal Game

By USA Hockey, 04/23/17, 7:00AM EDT


USA Looks to Bring Home Tenth Gold Medal from U18 Men's Worlds

The U.S. Mens National Under-18 Team will face Finland in the gold-medal matchup today at 7:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m. ET). The game will be shown live on NHL Network. 

Going for Gold

The U.S. will look to capture its tenth gold medal at the 2017 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship. The U.S. entered the tournament having captured a record 13 consecutive medals, including gold medals in six of the last eight years (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015). Team USA's nine gold medals is the most of any country in tournament history. 

The U.S. is 7-2-0-3 (W-OTW-OTL-L) all-time in gold-medal games.

Team USA captured its first gold medal in 2002 in Trnava and Piestany, Slovakia.

Finishing Against Finland

Finland, the number one seed from Group A and defending tournament champion, went undefeated in preliminary round play and advanced to the gold-medal game with a pair of overtime victories in its quarterfinal matchup with the Czech Republic (5-4, OT) on Thursday (April 20) and its semifinal matchup with Russia (2-1, OT) on Saturday (April 22). 

Forward Kristian Vesalainen (6-7-13) and defensemen Miro Heiskanen (2-10-12) lead the tournament in points through six games played. Goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has played in five of Finland's six games and has posted a 2.66 goals-against-average and .909 save percentage while making 139 saves.

Prior to this tournament, the U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team has faced Finland three times during the 2016-17 season. In November, the U.S. defeated Finland 3-1 to capture first place at the 2016 Under-18 Five Nations Tournament in Plymouth, Michigan. In the 2017 Under-18 Five Nations Tournament in Sundsvall, Sweden, the U.S. skated to an 8-1 victory. 

Prior to the start of the tournament on Monday (April 10), Team USA took down Finland, 5-2, in a pre-tournament tilt. Brady Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo.) tallied twice while Adam Scheel (Lakewood, Ohio) made 21 saves on 23 shots and Cayden Primeau (Voorhees, N.J.) made saves on all seven shots faced in the third period. 

All-Time vs. Finland

The United States and Finland are meeting for the 16th time in IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship history. The U.S. owns an all-time record of 9-1-0-5-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L-T) against Finland.  The U.S. has outscored Finland 42-31 all-time. 

Finland is tied with Russia for second in all-time medal count with three gold medals, two silver medals and four bronze medals for a total of nine.  

Team USA's last loss to Finland came in least year's semifinal matchup on April 23, 2016. Kieffer Bellows (Edina, Minn.) and Kailer Yamamoto (Spokane, Wash.) each tallied one goal, but the U.S. fell to Finland, 4-2, at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, North Dakota. 

The U.S. has won the previous two gold-medal games between the two countries.

Colin White (Hanover, Mass.) scored the game-winning goal in overtime to help the U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team knock off Finland, 2-1, at the Bossard Arena in Zug Switzerland in the gold-medal game of the 2015 IIIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship.

Jack Roslovic (Columbus, Ohio) also scored for Team USA in the victory. Evan Sarthou (Black Diamond, Wash.) started in net for Team USA and made 19 saves in the victory.

In the 2006 gold-medal game, Mike Carman (Apple Valley, Minn.), Rhett Rakshani (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Chris Summers (Milan, Mich.) scored for the U.S. in a 3-1 win against Finland.  Goaltender Joe Palmer (Yorkville, N.Y.) made 30 saves on 31 shots in the victory. This marked Team USA's third gold-medal game victory. 

When In Slovakia...

The last time the U.S. played this tournament in Slovakia, it captured the nation's first ever gold-medal. Led by future U.S. Olympians Jimmy Howard, Ryan Kesler, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, Team USA won seven of its eight games en route to the first IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship gold medal in the nation’s history, and first major men’s international hockey gold medal since the 1980 Olympic Winter Games.

USA Schedule

April 7 Exhibition vs. Belarus W, 5-2 Hodonin, Czech Republic
April 10 Exhibition vs. Finland W, 5-2 ZS Spisska Nova Ves
April 13 Belarus W, 7-0 ZS Spisska Nova Ves NHL Network
April 15 Russia W, 5-4 ZS Spisska Nova Ves NHL Network
April 17 Czech Republic W, 5-2 ZS Spisska Nova Ves NHL Network
April 18 Sweden W, 5-1 ZS Spisska Nova Ves NHL Network
April 20 Switzerland
W, 4-2 ZS Spisska Nova Ves NHL Network
April 22 Sweden
W, 4-3 OT ZS Poprad NHL Network
April 23 Finland • Gold Medal Game W, 4-2 ZS Poprad NHL Network


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