Photo by Matt Murnaghan / Hockey Canada Images
LANGLEY, British Columbia – The U.S. National Under-17 Team defeated Finland, 5-3, Thursday evening inside the Langley Events Centre at the 2022 World U-17 Hockey Challenge for their first international win. Brodie Ziemer (Hutchinson, Minn.), who was named U.S. Player of the Game, scored the tournament's first goal and Kamil Bednarik (Elmhurst, Ill.) netted the game-winning goal in the third.
Play was physical from the opening faceoff while both squads had a few looks on net. Starting U.S. netminder Nick Kempf (Morton Grove, Ill.) was tested nearly halfway through as he was forced to make a quick save right off a defensive zone draw. Moments later, Charlie Pardue (Winnetka, Ill.) was on the receiving end of a John Whipple (Minnetonka, Minn.) stretch pass for a breakaway, but Finland broke it up with a poke check.
Team USA was the first to get on the board as Ziemer netted the first goal of the tournament with 7:50 to go in the first. Dakoda Rheaume-Mullen (Northville, Mich.) skated around the goal before his initial shot. Bednarik picked up the rebound from the goal line and fed it to an open Ziemer for the goal.
Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) kept the puck rolling and increased the U.S. lead to two with a goal similar to Ziemer’s. After James Hagens (Hauppauge, N.Y.) battled on the boards with the puck, Max Plante (Hermantown, Minn.) picked it up and, like Bednarik on the first goal, fed Eiserman nearly at the same spot for the goal with 3:12 to go.
Finland came out of intermission quick as Joona Saarelainen netted a power-play goal to cut Team USA’s lead to one. Nearly five minutes later, Finland’s Arttu Valila sent a pass up ice to Roope Vesterinen who dashed across the blue line for a breakaway and tied things up. Finland netted their third in the first 10:00 of the period after Julius Miettinen kept with his rebound and backhanded one in for the lead.
Eiserman was searching for goal number two with under 9:00 to go off a breakaway chance but just missed the far post as Finland’s starting netminder Petteri Rimpinen got a piece of it. Three minutes later, Finland had a two-on-one chance and almost extended the lead but Kempf stretched out and got his blocker on the puck to keep it 3-2.
Two minutes into the final period of regulation, Shane Vansaghi (St. Louis, Mo.) intercepted a centering pass in the defensive zone. Vansaghi skated side-by-side with Eiserman and put it on the stick of Eiserman on the wing. A speedy Vansaghi dashed towards the net as Eiserman sent it his way and tipped it top shelf to tie the game at three.
A double minor from Finland opened the ice for Team USA's offense to try and snag the lead. The U.S. sent the puck around the horn and spread the ice, while also slowly closing in, before Plante snapped it to Bednarik waiting at the goal line. Bednarik made a quick move and went across the crease and buried the tiebreaker.
Finland pulled its netminder with 2:16 to go for one final push to tie things up, but Hagens took advantage of the empty net to pot one of his own for the 5-3 final.
Kempf stopped 33 shots faced in his international debut.
The Under-17 Team continue preliminary round play tomorrow (Nov. 4) against Czechia. Puck drop is set for 10:00 p.m. ET and can be streamed live here.