Photo by Michael Caples
Finland opened up the scoring at 7:46 of the first period. After the initial rush from Daniel Nieminen, Markus Loponen’s pinpoint pass found Juho Keinanen for a wide-open slapshot and 1-0 lead for the Europeans.
USA's best chance in the opening frame came shorthanded on a Brendan McMorrow (Lakeville, Minn.) brekaway, but Finnish netminder Petteri Rimpinen stifled the attempt and all 12 U.S. shots on net.
Team USA got on the board to even the score at 8:34 of the second on the power play. Cole Hutson (Chicago, Ill.) set up a wide open Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) from the right faceoff circle, where his one-timer ricochetted off the far-side post and in to tie the game.
The U18s took the lead less than minutes later on a James Hagens (Hauppauge, N.Y.) goal off feeds from Teddy Stiga (Sudbury, Mass.) and Hutson. Hagens' first shot was blocked by a defenseman, but he collected his own rebound and put it pas the falling Rimpinen. Hutson earned his 100th career NTDP with a helper on the 2-1 score.
USA netminder Nick Kempf (Chicago, Ill.) kept the lead intact as he made a sprawling save with 73 seconds left in the period, robbing the try from Anton Kettunen. The Finnish forward tried to sneak it past Kempf, but he extended his left and gloved the backhand attempt to negate the scoring chance.
Off the ensuing faceoff, Brodie Ziemer (Hutchinson, Minn.) doubled the USA lead to close out the three-goal second period. Hagens' pass hit Ziemer directly in front of the crease, who then turned and flipped a shot over Rimpinen’s right shoulder. Hutson tallied a secondary assist, his third point of the night.
Ziemer picked things up early in the third, notching his second of the game just 22 seconds into the period. Stiga found Hutson at the point, where he put the first shot on net. After the puck popped up after the initial save, Ziemer backhanded it out of mid-air and over the shoulder of Rimpinen for a 4-1 lead.
Finland got one back on a top-corner shot from Joona Saarelainen, assisted by Oliver Kopiloff and Mitja Jokinen, to reduce the USA lead to 4-2 with 6:28 left in the game.
Finland pulled the goalie with less than three minutes remaining, allowing USA to put the game on ice with a Stiga empty net goal. Dakoda Rheaume-Mullen (Northville, Mich.) punched the puck loose to pick up the lone helper and give him points in back-to-back games.
Kempf made 24 saves on 26 shots in his tournament debut, picking up the win in net for Team USA.
Team USA gets their off-day of the tournament tomorrow, before returning to the ice Friday night as they host Czechia. The first 500 fans into USA Hockey Arean will receive a USA tournament t-shirt giveaway! Tickets are available at USAhockeyNTDP.com/fivenations or by calling the box office at 734-453-8400.