Finns Come Up Big to Win Under-18 World Hockey Championships

Finns Come Up Big to Win Under-18 World Hockey Championships

Steven Ellis29 Apr 2018Steven Ellis»
 

Finland has won their second gold medal in three years at the Under-18 World Hockey Championships after defeating USA 3-2 thanks to a stout special teams unit in Russia on Sunday afternoon.

 
 
 
 

Finland has won their second gold medal in three years at the Under-18 World Hockey Championships after defeating USA 3-2 thanks to a stout special teams unit in Russia on Sunday afternoon.

It was an uncharacteristic start for the Americans, who didn't get a single scoring chance in the opening ten minutes of the first period. The Finns were in full control, and it would be Anttoni Honka, the brother of Dallas Stars defenceman Julius, who would open the scoring at 9:13. Honka's shot from the point would whisk past Spencer Knight in the American net, giving Finland the 1-0 advantage early in the game.

Finland continued to dominate and on their next power play opportunity, they'd score again. 2019 NHL Draft star Kaapo Kakko would make it 2-0 after sending a nice wrist shot past Knight on the cycle to the left of the net, giving Finland an early 2-0 advantage.

Late in the first, Patrick Giles got the Americans on the board. At 16:53, the 47th-ranked North American skater heading into the NHL Draft used his big frame to blow a shot past Justus Annunen to score his first goal of the tournament and to give the Americans a bit of life after a slow start to the game.

The Americans got some incredible goaltending from Knight, a 2019 NHL Draft prospect who took over for Drew DeRidder midway through the tournament. His great goaltending kept USA in the game and a second American goal during the middle frame. Trevor Janicke put the Americans back in the game after getting a rebound off of a Jacob Pivonka chance, scoring a big goal to give USA hope.

But while USA was getting good goaltending, they did struggle to maintain scoring chances. In fact, they'd allow a shorthanded goal just after the halfway point in the third when Jesperi Kotkaniemi gave Niklas Nordgren a pass on the two-on-one, beating out Cam York with the pass before Nordgren scored his tournament-leading eighth goal, giving Finland the lead back. It proved to be enough for the Finns, who held on long enough to win the game and give Finland the 3-2 victory to take home the gold medal in Russia.

The gold medal is the fourth in the history of the Finnish U18 team at the tournament, having beaten Sweden twice and Russia once previously. Despite the loss, USA's medal streak at the tournament was extended to 15 years and comes just over a year after this version of the US National Development Team Program won gold at the 2016 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge in Canada, with the players moving on to the NCAA and other ventures after the tournament this weekend.

Follow me on Twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.


Photo by Andrea Cardin/HHOF-IIHF Images

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