It wasn't easy after the US opened the tournament with a loss to Switzerland, but a goal by Jack Eichel with 1:04 remaining in regulation gave the US U18 team a 4-3 victory over Finland and earned them first place in their group at the World U18 Championships.
The host Finns got on the board first today on a goal by Miro Keskitalo. But striking late in the period was the theme for the US all day, and with 9 seconds remaining in the first period, Noah Hanifin fired a shot into traffic from the right half-boards that beat the Finnish goalie.
Anders Bjork would put the US ahead in the first minute of the second frame when he sniped a wrist shot from the high slot for a goal. But Finland would bounced back with goals by Aleksi Saarela and Joel Kiviranta to take a 3-2 lead. Despite heavy US pressure, it appeared that Finland would take that lead into the final period, until Kyle Connor pounced on a loose puck at the side of the Finland net to tie the game at 3 with just .8 seconds remaining in the period. The goal was Connor's fourth in as many games, which leads the US squad.
Neither team could gain an advantage for much of the third period. The US went on a man advantage with just over three minutes remaining in regulation, and needing a win in regulation time to ensure a first place finish in the group. They weren't successful on the power play, but shortly after it expired, Jack Eichel made an excellent individual move to play the puck to himself and beat the Finnish goalie for the game's decisive goal.
The win means the US finished group play at 3-1-0-0 and in first place in Group B. They'll play their quarterfinal match-up on April 24th against the team that finishes in fourth place in Group A, most likely Slovakia. The time for that game has not been announced, but whenever it is, it will be broadcast for free online via Fasthockey.com