World Junior hockey 2013: Team USA blown out in final World Junior tune-up

Bruce Bennett

Finland defeated the United States, 5-1, in Team USA's last pre-tournament game.

The United States' roster for the 2013 World Junior Championships was likely set, and they took on Finland in their second and final pre-tournament game in Helsinki. A lot of penalties taken and a mediocre performance by Team USA, however, may put the team into flux as the U.S. lost 5-1 to the Finns in their last big warmup before the tourney.

Team USA took a few careless penalties in the first period, but Finland looked pretty harmless on the man advantage. After the third unsuccessful Finnish power play, however, they finally broke through. USHL forward Thomas Nykopp made a nice drop pass to Robert Leino, who wristed one past John Gibson to make it 1-0.

Shortly after, the Finns took two penalties in the span of 90 seconds, and towards the end of the first half it appeared the United States cashed in. North Dakota forward (and Florida Panthers property) Rocco Grimaldi rebounded a Jacob Trouba (University of Michigan, Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick) shot off the back bar of the net. The ref, however, waived it off. Further replays showed that the puck went in, but there is no video review for pre-tournament competition.

The teams went scoreless in the second period, but early in the third period the Finns struck early and often, and finally got one on the power play. Olli Maatta (Pittsburgh Penguins) fanned on a shot of his own deep in the slot, but it fortuitously rolled right to Markus Granlund (Minnesota Wild) who had an open net, and ripped it past a diving Gibson. Soon after, prospect Aleksander Barkov had an easy rebound alone in front off of a Gibson save to make it 3-0 Finland.

It didn't take long for the U.S. to strike back, and it came from the team's so-called checking line. Blake Pietila (Michigan Tech, New Jersey Devils) followed up on a big rebound, with Trouba jumping up in the play, creating traffic. The United States had some momentum after making it 3-1, but immediately gave it back, as Stefan Matteau (Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, New Jersey Devils) took a two-minute penalty for a hit to the head and added on a 10-minute misconduct. Finland cashed in short order, as a big shot from the point by Barkov was tipped in by Arturri Lehkonen to make it 4-1. After a clean sheet in the second, four goals were scored in the first six minutes of period three.

Teuvo Teravainen, the 18th overall pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2012 NHL Draft, wrapped up the scoring a few minutes later with a blast from the point, making it 5-1 Finland on a third power play goal.

Team USA used this game as a dress rehearsal for their opening game of the tournament in Ufa, Russia on Dec. 27 against Germany. Brady Skjei (University of Minnesota, New York Rangers), Patrick Sieloff (Windsor Spitfires, Calgary Flames) and Jim Vesey (Harvard, Nashville Predators) all sat out today's game, and will likely be three of the four players cut from the training camp roster (the fourth, Stefan Noesen, was sent home due to an outstanding suspension in the Ontario Hockey League) before tournament play begins. That final roster is expected to be announced later today.

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