Preliminary Games Begin Sunday against Slovakia
EDMONTON, Alberta – The U.S. took a late 3-1 lead into the final minutes of the third period, but Finland scored three consecutive power play goals to win the pre-tournament contest, 4-3. Tanner Dickinson (Perrysburg, Ohio), Brett Berard (East Greenwich, R.I.) and Dominic James (Plymouth, Mich.) scored for the U.S.
“The exhibition served its purpose for our team as we learned what may make us successful, but also what would make us unsuccessful in the tournament,” said head coach Nate Leaman (East Greenwich, R.I.). “This tournament is about getting better and better. We carried a large stretch of that game showing the identity we need to play to have a good tournament.”
Drew Commesso (Norwell, Mass.) faced a flurry of shots early in the first, stopping seven of eight in the first 10 minutes. He was beat by Finland’s Simontaival as he found a loose puck in front of the net, after Commesso made consecutive sprawling saves. The U.S. looked to take momentum back with a five-minute power play opportunity. Just 28 seconds into the extra man advantage, Matt Coronato (New York, N.Y.) nearly tied things up jamming a loose puck, but video replay confirmed there was no goal.
The U.S. would tie things up with two minutes remaining in the opening frame, as Dickinson collected a turnover at his own blue line and fired a shot past Finland netminder Leevi Merilainen. USA carried that momentum into the second period, as Logan Cooley (West Mifflin, Pa.) found a streaking Carter Mazur (Jackson, Mich.) at the front of the net. With a loose puck in front of the crease, Matthew Knies (Phoenix, Ariz.) collected the rebound and shot on net, but the outstretched glove of Merilainen snatched the puck in desperation.
- Both Finland and the U.S. changed netminders ahead of the third period, with Dylan Silverstein (Calabasas, Calif.) playing for the Americans. Nine seconds into the third, a spinning Matty Beniers (Hingham, Mass.) found Berard at the top of the zone who wound up and fired the puck past Finnish netminder Joel Blomqvist. James put the U.S. up, 3-1, after cleaning up a rebound as he went hard to the net, finishing off a Chaz Lucius (Grant, Minn.) shot.
Finland tied things back up late in the third on a five-minute power play, with back-to-back 6-on-4 goals with their goaltender pulled for an extra-man advantage. Finland scored in overtime, still on the man advantage, to win 4-3.
Commesso stopped 12 of 13 shots in net, while Silverstein stopped five of eight.
The U.S. will open 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship preliminary round play Sunday (Dec. 26) against Slovakia. Puck drop is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET and the game can be seen live on NHL Network.
NOTES: Matty Beniers (Hingham, Mass.) was named U.S. Player of the Game … The U.S. outshot Finland, 33-21 … The U.S. went 0-for-2 on the power play, while Finland went 3-for-6.
(USA Hockey Photo)