Team USA ran into a hot goaltender on Wednesday afternoon at the World Junior Championship and because of that may be on the hot seat.
The U.S. plastered Finland goaltender Sami Aittokallio with 39 shots, but ran into a brick wall. At the other end of the ice, U.S. goaltender John Gibson couldn’t stop the Finnish attack and allowed the final three goals of the game as the Americans fell, 4-1, and now are at risk of not advancing to the medal round with two pool play game remaining.
Brandon Saad scored the only goal for the Americans early in the third period to tie the game, 1-1, but Finland broke the tie later in the frame scoring twice in 29 seconds and adding a dagger with its final goal with 3:33 remaining.
“I was happy to see us come back early in the third period,” said Team USA coach Dean Blais in a news release. “But we just couldn’t get enough going and Finland’s goalie played well.”
After the first two periods, Finland had a 1-0 lead despite Team USA holding a 24-9 shot advantage.
The U.S. tied the score, 1-1, just 19 seconds into the third period. Off of a faceoff win by Charlie Coyle, Emerson Etem located the puck and flicked a centering pass across the slot. The pass connected with Saad, who tipped the puck past Aittokallio.
The loss drops the Americans to 1-1-0-0 in pool play. They will face the Czech Republic on Friday before finishing pool play on Saturday against host Canada. The only way to guarantee advancement to the medal round is to win both games. It is possible the U.S. could advance by winning one of the two games, but would be the second- or third-place team and need three victories in the medal round to capture the gold.