IIHF UA18 Game Recap: Team USA vs. Team Finland | 04/30/2024

Photo Credit: INTERNATIONAL ICE HOCKEY FEDERATION (IIHF)

Team USA aimed to maintain its unbeaten record in the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship heading into the matchup with Team Finland. Both teams are familiar faces in the medal round, having each competed with the other for U18 Worlds gold three times. The U.S. emerged with the gold in 2006 and 2015, while Finland claimed the title in 2018. During this matchup, up for grabs was first place in Group A as we headed towards the Quarter-finals.

Goaltenders:

TEAM USA – Nicholas Kempf

TEAM FIN – Petteri Rimpinen

Period 1

The game started with a focus on the starting goalies, Nicholas Kempf for the U.S. and Petteri Rimpinen for Finland, who both kept their opponents from making any headway until late into the period. Teddy Stiga would get the first penalty of the game after he was called for tripping. Stiga made a strong comeback, receiving a pass from James Hagens at the Finnish blue line and scoring the opening goal at 15:53, giving the Americans the lead at 1-0. Brodie Ziemer would also get in on the action as he is credited with an assist.

While the scoring was limited after that, Team USA continued to show remarkable precision with their shots on goal. Despite this, Finland’s goalie performed exceptionally well in preventing the American team from scoring. We closed the period, with a score of 1-0, Team USA.

Shots on Goal:

USA – 21

FIN – 6

Period 2

It was during the second period that things would shift considerably for both teams. Team USA would once again come onto the ice, full throttle, with an early score made by Stiga just eight seconds into the period. He was assisted by James Hagens and Cole Hutson, and put Team USA ahead by 2-0 (0:08). Cole Hutson achieves a new milestone for career points as a defenseman with 112, thanks to his secondary assist on the goal.

Stiga was not quite finished there, however, putting us all on hat trick watch early on in the frame. He surely did not make anyone wait too long as he would put goal number three on the board a mere minute and 41 seconds later. With Hagens credited with the helper on that goal, Team USA is now ahead 3-0 (1:49).

Finland was not about Team USA’s goal to go unanswered. Tuomas Suoniemi would get Finland on the board with a setup by Mitja Jokinen and Keikki Ruohonen. The Finns would cut Team USA’s lead as we now have a score of 3-1 (4:35).

When Daniel Nieminen is called for cross-checking he opens the door for Team USA’s Kamil Bednarik, who would find twine on the man advantage with teammate L.J Mooney getting in on the action with a sweet setup for Bednarik on the play. Team USA is now ahead by a score of 4-1 (7:53) Once again, Finland would respond as Mitja Jokinen would find the net once again cutting into Team USA’s lead. The score now stands at 4-2, with Team USA still ahead of Team Finland at the nine-minute mark.

It would be near the end of the period that Team USA’s James Hagens would get his first goal of the game off a deflected pass, putting Team USA back up by a core of 5-2 at 18:05. Just moments later, Finland’s Aatos Koivu is snagged for cross-checking and the Americans are back on the man advantage. Team USA’s Hagens would get us back on hat trick watch as he scores from the front of the net, reading the play with precision. Ziemer and Cole Eiserman are credited with the assist. Team USA is up 6-2 (19:26).

Finland would answer back with just 34 seconds left in the period. Joona Saarelainen finds his way past Kempf cutting the lead back in half once again, 6-3, Team USA (19:54) as we closed out the period.

Shots on Goal:

USA – 16

FIN – 11

Period 3

The third period began in a manner eerily reminiscent of the second, with Hagens achieving a hat trick – again within just eight seconds into the period. The assist was credited to Hutson and E. J. Emery, both contributing to the play’s success. Team USA increased their lead to 7-3.

Finland incurred a penalty for kneeing, resulting in Veeti Vasanen being sent to the penalty box. This gave Team USA another opportunity on the powerplay. Seizing the moment, Trevor Connelly scored, putting the Americans in the lead 8-3 with assists from Logan Hensler and Emery at 2:03. Finland would then substitute Rimpinen with Kim Saarinen between the pipes. The Americans would put the Finns on the Powerplay as the call is a penalty for Too Many Men on the Ice and Shane Vansaghi serves the penalty for Team USA. They are able to kill that penalty time successfully. Kempf is substituted by Team USA at 7:22 with goaltender Jack Parsons.

Later, Finland put up their fourth goal as Suoniemi found the net at 10:45 in the final period. We now have a score of 8-4, with Team USA holding the lead. The Americans would put the Finns on the Powerplay once more as Shane Vansaghi is called for tripping. However, he would not be in the box alone for too long as Finland’s Pikkarainen is sent there himself at 13:31 sending the teams briefly on the 4-on-4. Team USA would effectively slam the door shut on Finland with a goal made by Ziemer, with Max Plante and Hutson getting a point each for the assist (14:28).

Team USA would close out the game against Finland with a decisive victory, and a final score of 9-4.

Shots on Goal:

USA – 14

FIN – 7

Summary

Team USA had an outstanding showing against Finland. Stiga and Hagens each with the hat trick, both finding the net early in the 2nd and 3rd periods and each at eight seconds in respectively. If Stiga is not currently on your NHL 2024 Draft Prospect Watch List he may need some consideration as he has put up 10 points after 4 games (5g, 5a). with no signs of slowing down.

Hagens also provided three assists, resulting in an impressive six-point display. He is already a standout player at only 17 years old and is anticipated to make a significant impact in the 2025 NHL Draft. Currently, he leads the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship with an impressive 16 points (7 goals and 9 assists). His exceptional performance will now put us on the record-busting watch as he positions himself to potentially surpass Nikita Kucherov’s record of 21 points in a single tournament that he set in 2011.

It would be TEAM USA that skated away with a convincing 9-4 win over Finland, securing the top spot in Group A. Team USA will face Switzerland in the quarter-finals on Thursday, May 2nd, while Finland will compete against their rival Sweden.

Karen Zehner

Credentialed Beat Writer covering the ECHL Atlanta Gladiators. Diving into the world of slap shots, penalty kills, and the game we love. [@RunwithK] on socials.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Los Angeles Kings Trade Pierre-Luc Dubois to Washington Capitals For Darcy Kuemper

Remember when the Los Angeles Kings were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and rumors were swirling about the possibility of the team buying out struggling forward Pierre-Luc Dubois? Kings GM Rob Blake addressed these rumors and said he had no plans to buy out Dubois. Blake was right about not pursuing a buyout, as […]

Read More
Barclay Goodrow playing for the San Jose Sharks.

BREAKING: Barclay Goodrow is Returning to the Bay

It was announced yesterday that Barclay Goodrow, 31, was placed on waivers by the New York Rangers in an effort to clear his salary. Today, after a trade to acquire Ty Dellandrea from the Dallas Stars, the San Jose Sharks claimed Goodrow.  The undrafted, two-time Stanley Cup Champion started his career in the Bay after […]

Read More

San Jose Sharks Acquire Ty Dellandrea from the Dallas Stars

The San Jose Sharks have traded for Dallas Stars forward Ty Dellandrea in exchange for a 2025 fourth-round selection (originally held by Winnipeg), according to the team announcement today. Dellandrea, 23, was selected by the Dallas Stars with the 13th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. The six-foot-two, 190-pound forward appeared in 42 games […]

Read More