USA win power play fest to advance to semis
Six different players score in 6-3 win over Finland to set USA up for game against Canada.
Four third period power play goals paved the way to the semi finals for Team USA after a 6-3 victory over Finland in Mora, Sweden.
Finland was already the most penalized coming into this game and once again they could not stay not of the box and it cost them dearly. Canadian referee Francis Charron set the tone, and certainly one the Finns liked. Within the space of a minute he sent Joonas Lehtivuori and Oskar Osala to the penalty box, giving the Americans an excellent chance to regain the lead 7:33 minutes into the third period. Twenty seconds later, Peter Mueller’s one-timer flew past Tukka Rask and turned out as being the game winning goal.
Peter Mueller's (not visible) one-timer re-installed USA's lead for the third time and ended up as the game winning goal in the end.
© Leonard Loonen, www.eurohockey.net, 2007.
Still on the power play, USA forced Finland’s defense man Timo Seppänen to clear the puck high and be penalized for delay of the game. It led to yet another 5-on-3 situation, which was perfectly executed when Trevor Lewis was spotted wide open at the far post to tip it in on the second attempt.
The comfortable two-goal lead could have been in jeopardy in Finland themselves had done some damage with a two-man advantage they were having with 5 minutes left to play. However, despite strong possession play in the offensive zone, the Finns refused to fire on net and ran out of time to cut the lead to one.
As the outcome of the game was clear, Finland was losing its calm and frustration took over. Miika Lahti was given a 5 + 20 penalty for high sticking Sean Zimmerman in the face followed by Leo Komarov being sent to the box for roughing. The tournament’s most penalized player, Teemu Laakso added to the penalty fest with a slashing penalty resulting in the Finnish bench turning furiously given a team penalty. While the penalty box almost left no more room for further players, Jack Johnson capped the scoring frenzy with another 5-on-3 power play goal. Laakso could not hide his frustration and threw his stick out of the penalty box. Laakso was to follow shortly after as he was sent off with a misconduct himself.
Teemu Laakso can not hide his frustration with yet another call. It cost him a game misconduct.
© Leonard Loonen, www.eurohockey.net, 2007.
“This is a big disappointment obviously,” a fuming Jesse Joensuu commented. “We were playing pretty good but the referee ruined it. I saw him talking with the US guys and it looked as if he was friends with them. He still pisses me off.”
So it all ended in a sour night for a Finnish side which looked good for a win after 40 minutes though.
The Finns rebounded from falling behind 2-0 early in the second period. Last years two-goal hero Jesse Joensuu was in the right place to tip in a rebound before Oskar Osala tied the game up. The slick skating forward fooled a US defenseman before dekeing goaltender Jeff Frazee leaving him with a simple backhand finish.
Osala came up big for Finland again within two minutes of the third period when his strong wrist shot from the point flew in at the far past behind Frazee to erase an early USA third period goal.
With Jesse Joensuu having picked up a retaliation penalty late in the second period, the USA wasted no time in the third. Erik Johnson’s blue line screamer was deflected by Jack Skille in front of the net leaving Tuukka Rask with no chance.
But it was third time lucky for Team USA. After blowing the lead twice, they ensured a semi final spot when Peter Mueller struck on the first 5-on-3 situation. It will set up a classic USA-Canada semi final tomorrow. Erik Johnson and Patrick Kane also tallied for the USA who will surely want to take revenge for the 6-3 loss they suffered during the round robin and being in upbeat mood having won their last three games, expect this semi final draw to be a cracking game in Leksand, Sweden.
After ending up with two losses in as many games the USA has now won three in a row and are looking strong again. “We’re now all on the same page. After our first two games, we had two days off and rested well and sticked to our plan. We learned to play as a team instead of individually,” said captain Taylor Chorney.
The defenseman is looking forward to tomorrow’s game against rivals Canada. “Everyone in the locker room was hoping on Canada. I’m sure we will give them a good game.” Asked if tonight’s game might have cost his team too much energy to show up big tomorrow Chorney was clear. “If you can’t get up for this game, there must be something wrong.”
The Finns will have to settle for a fifth spot at best squaring up with the Czech Republic who were routed 5-1 by hosts Sweden today.
Story added on 2nd January 2007 at 21:11 GMT
Story submitted by: Joeri Loonen.