United States tops Finland in shootout to open World Juniors

MONTREAL — For the ninth time in the last 10 years, the United States opened the IIHF World Junior Championship with a win, beating Finland 2-1 in a shootout Friday at the Bell Centre.

Chase De Leo scored the decisive goal in the shootout and Thatcher Demko (Boston College) stopped 28 of 29 shots to lift the Americans.

2015 World Junior Championship

United States schedule:

Friday, Dec. 26: U.S. 2, Finland 1 (SO)

Sunday, Dec. 28: U.S. 6, Germany 0

Monday, Dec. 29: U.S. 3, Slovakia 0

Wednesday, Dec. 31: Canada 5, U.S. 3

Friday, Jan. 2: Quarterfinals: Russia 3, U.S. 2

“That’s a very good team we just beat,” said Team USA coach Mark Osiecki in a news release. “I give our guys a lot of credit. They played hard and I thought we got better as the game went on.”

Finland opened the scoring just 1:22 into the game when the puck deflected off the skate of a U.S. player past Demko at the side of the net. The goal was credited to Mikko Rantanen.

Team USA evened the game on the power play at 13:54 of the first period. U.S. captain Jack Eichel (Boston University) made a nice play from behind the net, passing it off the end wall to himself and then backhanding a pass out front to a wide-open Alex Tuch (Boston College), who made no mistake in beating Finland goalie Ville Husso.

In the shootout, Eichel put the U.S. ahead in the first round only to have Arturi Lehkonen even it on the next shot. After a scoreless second round, De Leo beat Husso between the pads and then Demko made a glove save on Kasperi Kapenen to secure the win.

Defenseman Will Butcher (Denver) was named the U.S. Player of the Game.

Team USA is back in action on Sunday (Dec. 28) against Germany at 8 p.m. EST at the Bell Centre.