USA rounding into form

U18: Quarter-final matchups determined

22.04.2014
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The Americans have won three in a row and will face Slovakia in the quarter-finals. Photo: Richard Wolowicz / HHOF-IIHF Images

LAPPEENRANTA – Playing before a sellout crowd, Team Finland and Team USA put on a show that ended on the stick of Jack Eichel with a minute left in the game, giving the 4-3 win and the No.1 seed to the Americans.

“I thought everyone was playing hard from start to finish,” said USA captain Louis Belpedio. “We scored some good goals today including a big one at the end and come out with the win. They work hard and we were able to match that.”

Following a four-goal second period the Finnish and American offences played to a standstill in the third, neither team able to get ahead until late in the period.

With a minute and four seconds remaining on the clock, Jack Eichel got the puck at the goal line to the left of Finnish goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen and fired a shot from a near impossible angle that went straight into the top corner for the game-winning goal.

“We had a scouting report on (Kahkonen) before the game and we wanted to get a lot of shots on him and make him work,” said Eichel. “End of the shift I’m kind of low and Milano makes a good pass to me, didn’t really have a lot of options but I was in a spot where we said was a good place to shoot.”

The teams traded goals in the first period, the first scored by Miro Keskitalo of Finland, assisted by Juho Lammikko and Manu Honkanen. Team USA’s Noah Hanifin replied with an unassisted goal coming on the power play with just four seconds left.

The teams turned things up in the second, starting when Anders Bjork gave USA its first lead of the game 19 seconds into the frame.

The Finns responded as Keskotalo made a great up-ice pass to Aleksi Saarela, who split the two U.S. defenders and cut across the face of the net, toppling over goaltender Alexander Nedeljkovic but still managing to get his stick on the puck to push it home.

Joel Kirivanta then briefly gave the lead back to Finland with a tough angle shot from the left circle by beat Nedeljkovic on the far side.  But Kyle Connor tied things up with just a second remaining to go into the second intermission tied 3-3.  

With the win USA has now come back from an opening game loss to Switzerland and won three straight to take the top seed in Group B. They will play Slovakia in the quarter-final round on Thursday.

Joel Kirivanta then briefly gave the lead back to Finland with a tough angle shot from the left circle by beat Nedeljkovic on the far side.  But Kyle Connor tied things up with just a second remaining to go into the second intermission tied 3-3.  

With the win USA has now come back from an opening game loss to Switzerland and won three straight to take the top seed in Group B. They will play Slovakia in the quarter-final round on Thursday.

Sweden – Germany 9-3 (0-3, 1-4, 2-2)

IMATRA – Sweden finished off the preliminary round with a 9-3 blowout of Germany. The Swedes will head to the quarter-finals as the second seed in Group B and will play Finland on Thursday.

Sebastian Aho scored two goals and won the Best Player award for Sweden. Axel Holmstrom opened the scoring for the Swedes in the first period, and Oskar Lindblom, Gustav Forsling, Rasmus Andersson, Henrik Tornqvist, William Nylander, and William Lagesson also found the back of the net for the Swedes.

Nylander finished with a goal and three assists, giving him four points to add to his tournament-leading total. Through the preliminary round Nylander has registered 11 points in just four games.

Here are the quarter-final matchups, all games to be played on Thursday.

USA – Slovakia

Czech Republic – Russia

Sweden – Finland

Canada – Switzerland



ADAM STEISS


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