Magazine Musings: Finland 3, U.S. 2 (Gold-Medal Game)

Five Takeaways From The U.S. 3-2 Loss To Finland In The Gold-Medal Game

Here are the five takeaways from the United States’ 3-2 loss to Finland in the gold-medal game of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship on Saturday night. With the its silver medal the U.S. National Junior Team has now medaled in four straight WJCs.

Stalled Power Play

When the U.S. analyzes what went wrong against Finland, and there wasn’t much, the spotlight will turn to the power play. The U.S. went 0-for-5 on the man-advantage when they needed it most.

 

It wasn’t for a lack of chances. Ryan Poehling, who took home Tournament MVP and the tournament’s Best Forward honors, had some great chances down low, but Finnish goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was up to the task. Luukkonen finished with 26 saves and was a big reason why the Finns picked up their first gold medal since 2016 and fifth in the nation’s history.

Cheers For Chmelevski

Sasha Chmelevski was once again a force for the U.S.  The Ottawa 67’s forward finished with a goal and the primary assist on Josh Norris’ tally. For someone who didn’t receive a great deal of ice time, Chmelevski impressed with his hands and skating.

 

One of the more experienced players on the roster, Chmelevski impressed with the San Jose Barracuda of the AHL in a six-game stint last season. The Northville, Mich., native scored three goals and added an assist and should factor into the Sharks’ near future. His production in this tournament was there, finishing tied for 7th in scoring with seven points (4G, 3A).

Goal Negated

After being on the receiving end of a Russia goal being overturned in the semifinals, the U.S. felt the blow of a goal waved off 9:45 into the first period off the stick of Oliver Wahlstrom.

 

It didn’t count from the get-go, waved off initially as Chmelevski was in the crease, although he did try to exit the blue paint but was hauled down. It was reviewed and stood as no goal.

 

Friends And Foes

Over the years the Finns and Americans have waged some fierce battles on international ice. But away from the rink the two countries have a longstanding relationship based on mutual respect and a strong desire to improve their respective player development systems.

 

The friendship was recently on display as USA Hockey and local hockey organizations welcomed a pair of Finnish hockey coaches for a whirlwind tour of the upper Midwest.

 

This latest exchange program was another opportunity for the Finnish visitors and local coaches from around Chicago, Michigan and Wisconsin to exchange of ideas and best practices centered around player development.

 

This is the third straight year of the cooperative effort between FIHA and USA Hockey. Plans are in the works for several USA Hockey ADM regional managers to visit Finland in the future.

Silver Streak

Despite coming up short of its gold-medal march, the U.S. won its second silver medal at the World Juniors and extended its medal streak to four straight competitions after gold in 2017 and bronze in 2016 and 2018. The U.S. continues to be a force on the junior circuit, with a great deal of that success due to the American Development Model and developing players. The U.S. holds seven players who can potentially return in 2020.

 

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Thanks for following along for the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship, we hope you enjoyed the tournament and we’ll see you for the 2020 rendition, hosted in the Czech Republic.

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