U.S. Loses WJC Bronze-Medal Game To Finland

Finland broke a 2-2 tie with less than seven minutes to play and went on to a 4-2 victory over the United States in the bronze-medal game of the 2006 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship. A total of 15,107 watched at GM Place.

“Give Finland credit,” said a disappointed U.S. Head Coach Walt Kyle. “They were the better team today. We just couldn’t get over the hump.”

In an eventful first period with 33 total shots on goal, including 18 by Team USA, the only goal came at 12:11 when U.S. forward Bobby Ryan took a cross-ice feed from Robbie Schremp and scored off his own rebound. Defensemen Taylor Chorney started the play.

U.S. netminder Cory Schneider had to be sharp in the period and made several good saves, including one by Mikko Lehtonen at the doorstep midway through the period. The Finns also had a few great opportunities on their second power play in the back half of the period along with Leo Komarov’s shorthanded chance in the final minute of the frame.

Finland tied the game at 13:32 of the second period when Jari Sailio put home his own rebound just after the Americans did a terrific job killing off a Finland power play. Just 1:19 later the Finns took the lead when a puck deflected off the thigh of Jesse Joensuu in front and past Schneider.

Team USA, which was outshot by a 19-10 count in the period, had a couple of good chances early. T. J. Oshie made a nifty move around a Finn defenseman before shooting wide from eight feet out and Peter Mueller took a nice feed from behind the net from Erik Johnson but couldn’t force the puck by Karri Ramo.

After dodging a couple of bullets in the early going of the third, including Lauri Korpikoski missing an open net, the U.S. tied the game at 11:03 on the power play. Defenseman Jack Johnson’s shot from the center point found its way past Ramo with Phil Kessel and Ryan drawing assists.

Unfortunately for Team USA, it took Finland just 2:17 to regain the lead as Lauri Tukonen fired one in from between the circles at 13:20. The Finns added an insurance goal at 15:24 as Joenssu tallied his second of the game from the right faceoff dot.

Schneider made 45 saves in the game, while Ramo finished with 37 stops. Team USA was outshot by a 49-39 count in the contest.

Notes: Phil Kessel finished as Team USA’s top point-getter in the World Junior Championship with 1-10–11. Kessel has 5-12–17 in 14 total World Junior games over two years. His 12 assists are tied for second in career assists in the World Juniors among American players, and his 17 points rank 10th … Chris Bourque finished the tournament with seven goals, one short of the U.S. single-tournament record of eight held by Jeremy Roenick (1989). Bourque had eight total points in the event and over the last two years has 8-2–10 … Cory Schneider finished the tournament with a 2-3-1 record, 2.67 goals against average and.912 save percentage. His goals against average is eighth-best for a U.S. netminder in a single tournament, while his save percentage is 10th … Jack Johnson led all U.S. defensemen in points with 1-5–6. He finished fourth on the squad in shots on goal with 24 in the seven games … Walt Kyle finished his third stint as the U.S. coach in the World Junior Championship. Kyle’s teams have finished fourth twice (2006, 1993) and third once (1992) … IIHF regulations do not allow for assists to be given on a rebound goal … Team USA was the visiting team in Thursday’s game, despite being the higher seed. Team USA was the home team in a preliminary-round game between the clubs earlier in the tournament and IIHF rules call for the home and visiting designations to be flipped, regardless of seed, if the teams meet again … A total of 11 players from this year’s squad are eligible to return to the U.S. National Junior Team next year.