Photo by Ronald Hansel, Juniorský hokej
ROMANSHORN, Switzerland - Cole Hutson (Barrington, Ill.) netted the game-winner in the third, along with an assist, as the National Under-17 Team beat Finland, 4-2, inside EZO Eissportzentrum Oberthurgau. Team USA has won their second-straight game in as many games at the Five Nations Tournament.
Starting U.S. goaltender Nick Kempf (Morton Grove, Ill.) was tested early, nearly five minutes in, where he went post-to-post on an odd-man rush and made the save to keep things even.
Team USA put on the pressure in the first, with a 21-9 shot advantage throughout, but it was Finland who got on the board first. With the U.S. playing down a man, Finland controlled it in the offensive zone and put a shot on net which was initially blocked. The loose puck in front was picked up by Markus Loponen and put into the back of the net for the first period's lone goal.
The U.S. knotted things up early in the second with help from James Hagens (Hauppauge, N.Y.). Hutson controlled the puck and walked the blue line before he fired a shot on net that Finland's starting netminder Petteri Rimpinen couldn't control. The rebound was picked up by Hagens as he fired it into the back of the net to make it 1-1, :55 seconds in.
Kristian Epperson (Mequon, Wis.) gave Team USA the lead 4:17 later with a quick shot in front. Brodie Ziemer (Hutchinson, Minn.) muscled along the board with the puck and fed it to Kamil Bednarik (Elmhurst, Ill.) behind the net. Bednarik surveyed the ice prior to possessing the puck and saw Epperson left alone going towards the net. A speedy pass found Epperson who demonstrated patience in front before he found his shot and took it for the goal.
However, Finland put the game at a stalemate 1:17 later as Juho Keinänen took a bouncing puck off the boards in the neutral zone and dashed towards the slot before he fired it into the back of the net.
The game was coming down to the wire in the third, still knotted at two nearly halfway through. A big penalty kill was in front of Team USA but they made work of it and added a shorthanded goal. Hutson picked up an idle puck in his own defensive zone and took some strides to turn Finlands defense around before he ripped one past Rimpinen.
Max Plante gave Team USA a comfortable two-goal lead, which was the eventual last goal of the game. A stick lift gave him the opportunity to corral the puck and make his way through Finland's last line of defense. Plante used his speed to create a breakaway and shot it glove side for the goal.
Kempf started in net for Team USA and made 23 saves in his tournament debut.
The Under-17 Team continues the Five Nations Tournament tomorrow against the host country Switzerland, with puck drop set for 11:30 a.m. ET. Tomorrow's game can be streamed free here along with live stats found here.