Finland halts Team USA’s run at worlds
Team USA’s impressive run at the world championships came crashing down Thursday in Germany.
Finland was excellent defensively and frustrated Team USA all game while pulling off a 2-0 upset in the quarterfinals.
Coach Jeff Blashill’s U.S. team had won six consecutive games after an opening-night loss to Germany.
No U.S. team has ever won seven consecutive games in a single world championship tournament.
But Finnish goalie Harri Sateri stopped 26 shots and Mikko Rantanen (power play) and Joonas Kemppainen had goals.
Finland is 5-2-1 heading into the semi-finals, playing the winner of the Sweden-Switzerland game.
Team USA had reached the semifinals three of the previous four years.
“It goes without saying we’re bitterly disappointed,” Blashill, the Red Wings coach, told reporters after the game. “We believed that this team had the ability to win the tournament. They are a great group who cared, were selfless and played some great hockey.
“Unfortunately, Finland was better than we were today and I congratulate them.”
Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard stopped 18 shots for Team USA, and kept his team close with several big saves in the second and third periods.
“(The Finns) made it tough on us all night long,” Howard said.
Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin (Waterford, UM) had two great scoring opportunities late in the third period, with Team USA trailing 2-0, but couldn’t convert in what was an otherwise outstanding tournament for Larkin.
“We had the puck a lot today, but we couldn’t break through trap,” Larkin said. “It was a frustrating game, frustrating way to end the tournament after so many positives.”
Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser had a good scoring chance midway in the third period, but was denied by Sateri.
The three Red Wings players, and Blashill, now head home after the medal-round defeat.
Local hockey fans have an opportunity to catch the best in junior hockey the next couple weeks.
Cross the bridge (or go through the tunnel) to Windsor, as the Spitfires are hosting the 2017 Memorial Cup May 19-28 at WFCU Centre.
The Spitfires, Erie Otters (Ontario League champion), Seattle Thunderbirds (Western League champion) and Saint John Sea Dogs (Quebec champions) are involved in the four-team, round-robin tournament determining the championship of the major junior hockey season.
The lone Red Wings draft pick competing in the tournament is Erie defenseman Jordan Sambrook (2016, fifth round).
But there’s still a definite Michigan flavor to the event.
Erie also has forward Alex DeBrincat (Farmington Hills), a Chicago Blackhawks first-round pick who scored 65 goals in 63 games this season.
Forward Cade Robinson (Jackson) and defenseman Ivan Lodnia (Novi) are also on the Otters.
Local players on Windsor are forward Luke Boka (Plymouth) and defenseman Jalen Chatfield (Ypsilanti).
The tournament opens Friday with Windsor facing Saint John at 7 p.m.