WJC 2013: Finland Thrashes US 5-1 In Last Tuneup

Bruce Bennett

The US finishes pre-tournament play 1-1 after a tough loss to Finland this morning. Johnny Gaudreau made his debut but did not make the scoresheet.

Welp. It was just a pre-tournament game, and it was against Finland in Finland. That being said, it was a troubling morning for US fans as a stingy, disciplined Finland team picked apart the Americans 5-1 on Saturday. The US now has five days to lick its wounds before heading to Russia for the tournament; their first game is on Thursday against Germany.

Johnny Gaudreau made his first appearance and largely had a silent game, as did the rest of the US's top line (though it should be said that linemate Rocco Grimaldi scored a goal on the power play that didn't count because the ref didn't see it go into the net; the game did not have instant replay). Gaudreau got consistent power play time and occasionally showed flashes of the puck control and vision that make him so dangerous for BC, but overall the US had a lot of trouble setting up with the man advantage.

The only strong line for the US throughout the game was the third line of Blake Pietila (Michigan Tech), Cole Bardreau (Cornell), and Ryan Hartman (Plymouth Whalers), who used their size and strength to put pressure on Finland. Pietila had the US's only goal, coming early in the third period.

The game was another tightly-called festival of penalties, with the US taking seven penalties and Finland taking five. The Finns took advantage with three power play goals, but the US power play was kept off the board.

Finland can now go into the tournament feeling pretty good about itself as they defeated both Canada and the US in back to back pre-tournament games. They also have the easier group, with Sweden, Latvia, the Czech Republic and Switzerland on their schedule. The Americans face a Group of Death with Canada, Russia, Slovakia and Germany.

Though the roster may be subject to shakeup after this drubbing, the lineup today is expected to be the team the US takes to Ufa for the tournament. If there are no changes, it appears that Matt Grzelcyk of BU has made the team, but Jim Vesey of Harvard will be heading home.

NCAA players on the projected final US roster:

G: Jon Gillies (Providence College)

D: Shayne Gostisbehere (Union College)
D: Matt Grzelcyk (BU)
D: Jake McCabe (Wisconsin)
D: Mike Reilly (Minnesota)
D: Jake Trouba (Michigan)

F: Cole Bardreau (Cornell)
F: Riley Barber (Miami)
F: Johnny Gaudreau (BC)
F: Rocco Grimaldi (North Dakota)
F: Sean Kuraly (Miami)
F: Mario Lucia (Notre Dame)
F: Blake Pietila (Michigan Tech)

Another interesting note from a BC perspective: it looks like 6-foot-3 stalwart defenseman Brady Skjei of the University of Minnesota has not made the team and as such will be able to rejoin the Gophers in time for the Mariucci Classic. (Lame.)

The official final roster must be submitted by Christmas night, before the tournament kicks off on Dec. 26 with a game between Germany and Canada.

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