U.S. PULLS AWAY TO BEAT FINNS, EARN SEMIFINAL SPOT
JASON LA ROSE
MEDICINE HAT, Alta. – Chaz Lucius scored a hat trick, Sasha Pastujov added a goal and two assists and the United States doubled up Finland 8-4 on Thursday afternoon to punch its ticket to the semifinals at the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
The Americans are back into the final four for the first time since winning their fifth gold medal in 2017. They will take on the winner of the Canada White-Canada Red quarter-final on Friday (time and location TBD).
The final score was not indicative of the play on the ice, at least not through the first two periods. Lucius’ second of the goal of the game gave the U.S. a narrow 3-2 lead midway through the second, and it added four more in the first 13 minutes of the third.
Justin Janicke opened the scoring 9:30 into the first period, chasing down a stretch pass that Finnish goaltender Paavo Kohonen charged but allowed to sneak through him for an easy tap-in.
Viljami Juusola got that back for the Finns just 98 seconds later, throwing a shot from the point towards the net and past a surprised Kaidan Mbereko in the U.S. goal.
Lucius got his first five minutes into the second period, gathering in a puck off the end-boards and going against the grain to beat Kohonen, but Viljami Marjala snapped a quick shot past Mbereko from the slot at 7:29 to tie the game again.
Lucius put the Americans ahead for good on the power play, hammering a one-timer short side on Kohonen.
The floodgates opened in the third as the Americans ratcheted up the offence.
Dylan Duke made it 4-2 at 2:47, redirecting a waist-high shot from Pastujov in behind Kohonen, and Jack Hughes kept on a three-on-one to stretch the advantage to three at 7:31.
After Liam Gilmartin buried a feed from Tyler Boucher at the side of the net for the 5-2 goal at 11:57, Lucius needed less than a minute to tip-in a gorgeous feed from Jack Devine for his hat-trick marker.
Samu Tuomaala and Juusola sandwiched goals around one from Pastujov in the final five minutes to provide the final margin of victory.
The U.S. pounded Kohonen with 19 shots in the third period and had a 35-29 edge overall.
The Finns will wrap up their tournament Saturday morning (11 a.m. CT) in the seventh-place game.