USA Hockey Magazine

February 2019

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18 // FEBRUARY 2019 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM T h e b r i l l i a n t g o a l t e n d i n g o f C a y d e n Primeau gave the Americans a chance, but a late goal-mouth scramble had the puck trickle to rising Finnish star Kaapo Kakko, who chipped the puck into the net to give Finland the 3-2 lead with just 1:26 to play in the game, leaving too little time for another American comeback. "I'm disappointed in the outcome, but I'm not disappointed in that group from what they went through," said head coach Mike Hastings of his team. The Americans did have to battle through some adversity that included top draft pros- pect Jack Hughes suffering an injury that forced him out for three games. An illness that swept through the U.S. locker room also forced some players to miss game action during the preliminary round. On top of that, the U.S. had multiple games where they had to overcome late deficits, most notably in an instant classic preliminary round matchup with Sweden. " We 'v e g o t a l o t o f h e a r t ," s a i d R y a n Poehling, who was named the tournament's MVP after leading Team USA with eight points. "I'm proud of the group we had. We played hard. [Winning gold] is what we want- ed, but it's what we didn't get. Whatever hap- pened, I'm proud of the group." It was Poehling who played the role of hero against Sweden, as the U.S. clawed back from a 4-0 deficit in the final 10 minutes of the third period. The Lakeville, Minn., native, who also won bronze with USA at the 2018 World Juniors, scored a natural hat trick in the final 6:35 of regulation to force overtime. Though the U.S. eventually lost that game in the extra period, that comeback instilled confidence that the team was never out of the hunt. "It showed the character we have in the room," said captain Mikey Anderson. "To fight back was a big step for us." The Americans finished second to Sweden i n g r o u p p l a y, t h e n d e f e a t e d t h e C z e c h Republic and perennial rival Russia in the playoff round to reach the gold-medal game with Finland, a team they had previously defeated 4-1 in the preliminary round. The Finns, however were more battle tested the second time around, having upset host Canada in the quarterfinals before rolling past Switzerland in the semis. Primeau stood tall making 28 saves on 31 shots, while Finnish netminder Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 26 of 28 at the other end as both goaltenders shined in the final. It was an epic battle between two countries that seem to be meeting a lot in these kinds PHOTOS BY Getty Images; Images on Ice 5 DRIVE FOR FIVE: The U.S. National Junior Team will look to extend its unprecedented medal streak to five straight years when it travels to Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic for the 2020 World Junior Championship. The team will be the top seed in Group B, joining Russia, Canada, the Czech Republic and Germany. Once again the U.S. and Finland faced off in the finals of an IIHF event. SILVER STREAK

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