Sebastian Aho scored a hat trick and continued to demonstrate why he has been Finland's most important player.
"We have a lot of skilled guys and our defence is really skilled and move well," captain Mikael Granludn said. "We can play with the puck and get some offence going. Today again, though, we needed to defend as well. That's a really good team we played against. We kept them to two goals, and our goalie was great again."
With the win, Finland finished first in Group B and will stay in Herning to play Thursday’s quarter-final game against Switzerland at Jyske Bank Boxen.
It was a game featuring two of the tournament’s best offensive players to date. Patrick Kane and Sebastian Aho came into the game ranked 1 and 2 in individual scoring.
The Americans came out fast, applying sustained pressure in the offensive zone. Brian Gibbons got Team USA’s first real chance and minutes later he drew a penalty on Miika Koivisto for interference.
This would give the tournament’s top power play its first crack at getting on the scoreboard. But to do that, they would have to solve the tournaments third best penalty kill. Finland surrendered only two power play goals coming into this game. Finland successfuly killed the penalty, keeping the shots mostly on the outside.
Aho’s first goal came at 10:17. There was a mad scramble in front as Finland was buzzing around the USA net. Aho took a sharp angle shot that was saved and Veli-Matti Savinainen backhanded the rebound on net but that too was stopped. Possessing the puck once again, Aho sent the puck on net while near the back boards to the left of the goal hoping for a deflecting with Charlie McAvoy and Savinainen battling in front. The puck hit goaltender Keith Kinkaid on the inside right thigh and through his pads over the goal line.
Aho added another with 2:45 remaining in the first period. After winning the faceoff in the USA zone, Matti Nutivaara attempted to wind the puck around the net but instead it took a strange bounce and redirected in front of the net where Aho was waiting for the tap in.
Kinkaid would go down in the period. Rantanen’s shot struck Kinkaid in the neck and he was down for a few minutes before getting up and remaining in the game.
In the second both teams would have intense waves where there were chances aplenty. On either side, efforts to neutralize their opponents attack were clean with no penalties called in the period.
Finland widened their lead as Rantanen scored at 17:51. He took a rebound and backhanded it into the net. Markus Nutivaara and Granlund earned assists. Rantanen's goal would stand up as the game winner.
Finland would have to confront Lanky forward Marko Anttila added a fourth goal for Finland at 7:42 of the third.
Team USA challenged the goal for goaltender interference. After a review, the play would stand.
It looked like Harri Sateri would keep the high powered Team USA offence from scoring in the contest. However, the Americans snapped the shutout at 11:33. With Anders Lee providing a screen, Kane sent a wrist shot that eluded Sateri. The goal was scored with Koivisto in the penalty box. McAvoy picked up the assist. Not to be outdone, Finland challenged the goal but after review it stood and Team USA got its first goal.
These teams would trade off scoring goals as Kasperi Kapanen got one, followed by Derek Ryan, and, finally, Aho would complete his hat trick to end scoring in the game.
Team USA grew frustrated in the third and it showed. There was pushing and shoving and many after whistle get togethers over the final twenty minutes of play.
"We were just getting frustrated," said WIll Butcher. "We haven't been beaten like that in the tournament, but it's better to lose now than later. I don't think we were ready tonight. They played a good game and got some bounces, and that's how hockey goes some times. It sucks right now, but we'll learn from it and keep going. Overall, we need to be better, and we will."