Tyler Madden (Hartford, Conn./Northeastern University) scored twice and Jason Robertson (Northville, Mich./Niagara IceDogs) and Ryan Poehling (Lakeville, Minn./St. Cloud State University) each added tallies as the U.S. National Junior Team defeated Finland, 4-1, in its fourth and final preliminary round game of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.
"That was a big bounce-back win for these young men here tonight to close out the preliminary round," said Mike Hastings (Crookston, Minn./Minnesota State), head coach of the 2019 U.S. National Junior Team. "The attention to detail tonight is why we were able to put together a good 60 minutes of hockey here. We'll enjoy this win tonight and tomorrow start turning our attention towards a quality quarterfinal opponent."
The U.S. (3-0-1-0/W-OTW-OTL-L) finishes Group B play in second place and will meet the Czech Republic, the third seed from Group A, in the quarterfinals on Wednesday (Jan. 2). The game is set for 5:00 p.m. local time (8:00 p.m. ET) here at Save-on-Foods Memorial Center in Victoria. That contest will also be broadcast live on NHL Network.
The first half of the opening period was quiet in terms of chances early on as both teams were committing to smothering offensive opportunities.
A powerplay at the midway point of the frame saw the U.S. generate its best opportunity to that point when Robertson found a streaking Joel Farabee (Cicero, N.Y./Boston University) at the top of the crease for a redirection saved by Finnish netminder Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.
With 8.9 seconds to play in the frame, the U.S. broke through when Robertson beat Luukkonen with a snapshot between the legs. The play started in the neutral zone when a disrupted Finnish pass found its way to Farabee who was able to hold the puck, curl around and find Robertson with a pass he carried into the zone uncontested for the 1-0 lead.
Seven minutes into the second period, a scrum at the top of the crease nearly saw Finland even the score, 1-1. The play started when U.S. goaltender Cayden Primeau (Voorhees, N.J./Northeastern University) made an initial save on Rasmus Kaspari that generated a scrum at the top of the crease. With the puck bouncing, a late push by a Finnish player sent the puck into the net but the goal was overturned because the play had been whistled dead.
One minute later, Primeau made another quality save, stuffing a wraparound attempt by Linus Nyman to keep the score, 1-0.
At the 11:40 mark, the U.S. doubled its lead on a play that started and ended by Madden. Along the left wall, Madden dumped the puck behind the net and around the boards to Josh Norris (Oxford, Mich./University of Michigan), who immediately curled around and found Madden to the right of goal for a shot that slipped through Luukkonen's right arm for a 2-0 lead.
Five minutes later, Poehling grabbed a pass from Phil Kemp (Greenwich, Conn./Yale University), carried the puck up through the neutral zone and towards the net before sliding a shot through Luukkonen's legs to put the U.S. up, 3-0.
The final period opened with a U.S. powerplay 1:06 into the frame. One minute later, the U.S. capitalized as Robertson flung a puck on net and created a rebound Madden was able to jam home for Team USA's sixth powerplay goal in four outings.
With 6:44 left in regulation, Finland broke through when Urho Vaakanainen threw a puck at the net that was tipped by Jesse Ylonen and trickled through Primeau for the 4-1 final.
NOTES: Forward Tyler Madden was tabbed U.S. Player of the Game ... The U.S. outshot Finland, 39-28, went 1-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. For complete game statistics, click here ... John Vanbiesbrouck (Detroit, Mich.), assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey, is serving as the general manager of the U.S. National Junior Team ... The U.S. enters the tournament having medaled in three straight World Junior Championships for the first time in U.S. history after earning gold in 2017 and bronze in 2018 and 2016 ... NHL Network is the official U.S. broadcaster of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship. For more information about the tournament, click here.