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Fox saves U.S.

Finns start slowly, rally, lose, 5-4

Published 31.12.2017 19:08 GMT-5 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Fox saves U.S.
BUFFALO, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 31: USA's Brady Tkachuk #7 battles Finland's Juuso Valimaki #6 while Ukko-Pekka Luukonen #1 makes the save during preliminary round action at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Adam Fox broke a 4-4 tie with a goal at 18:23 of the third period to give the United States a dramatic 5-4 win over Finland. The U.S. led at one point, 3-0.

The Americans also led 4-2 but Finland rallied with two quick goals in the third to tie the score.

Fox took a pass down the right wing in full flight and beat goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen with a shot through the pads to give the U.S. a win to close out the round robin for both teams. The U.S. finished with three wins (one in a shootout) and a loss while Finland had two wins and two losses.

Captain Joey Anderson had two goals today; Fox and Casey Mittelstadt had a goal and two assists each; and, Brady Tkachuk had three assists. Mittelstadt now leads all scorers with nine points. 

Both teams had already qualified for the quarter-finals, though their opponents won’t be known until later tonight once all round-robin games have been completed.

"We're finiding a way to win, and that's the main thing right now," said Anderson. "We didn't play our best hockey at all times tonight. There were periods of time when we stopped moving our feet. We let them get their legs going, and suddenly it's a tie game."

Finland’s undoing was a slow start, allowing the Americans to open a 3-0 lead by the early part of the second period. 

"Maybe they came out a little slowly," said Trent Frederic, who scored one of the U.S. goals. "They played last night, and we had a bit of extra rest, but they turned it on at the end."

"You can call us a comeback team, maybe" Frederic added. "We came back the other day and today felt like a comeback. It shows we can turn it on when we have to, but now we have to turn it on all game in the quarters."

Trent Frederic got things going for the Americans with his first goal of the tournament, firing a low wrist shot after corralling a loose puck at 3:59. 

The Tkachuk-Mittelstadt combo clicked again at 14:33 after several giveaways by the Finns in their own end. Mittelstadt finished things off to make it 2-0.

Early in the second the U.S. had a two-man advantage for 29 seconds and made good in shrt order. Anderson got to a loose puck and beat Luukkonen before he could get in position.

But just when it seemed the home side would skate to an easy win, the Finns picked up their game. Aapeli Rasanen got things going with a great shot over Woll’s glove at 9:01 to put Suomi on the board, and late in the period they made it 3-2 on the power play. 

Eeli Tolvanen ripped a one-timer at 18:44, but no sooner were the Finns close than they took a penalty and surrendered a goal. Anderson showed great hand-eye coordination to the side of the goal, batting in a puck on the short hop with 33.1 seconds left to stop the Finnish rally.

But the Finns wouldn't go away so easily. They made it a one-goal game again at 8:25 of the third when Joona Koppanen carried the puck up ice on a two-on-one and rifled another ow shot to beat Woll.

Then, 66 seconds later, the comeback was complete when Kristian Vesalainen found space through traffic in the slot. That 3-0 deficit was a thing of the past now, and it was the Americans who were on their heels in a game they once controlled.

But with overtime looming, Fox saved the day for the U.S. "We knew we had to get the energy back up, stay positive," Anderson said. "There was no doubt on the bench that we were coming back and getting the next one."