Rangers prospect and Team USA fall to Finland in WJC Final


Saturday night, the Fins and the United States faced off in the gold medal game. The likely 1st and 2nd overall picks were in full swing in the forms of US centerman Jack Hughes, and Finnish winger Kaappo Kakko. Let’s take a look at how this tilt went.

The game started with a not so great pace. You can tell that the nerves were buzzing for both sides. A few chances were exchanged early but nothing really of high percentage. The Fins had an early chance on a blown d-zone coverage, but no harm, no foul.

In the first 10 minutes of the first period, the US only had one good scoring chance off a nice play from Joel Farabee. The action started to pick up in the second half of the first period. With about 10 minutes left in the first, the Fins had a wave coming. They had a couple of sequences that could have ended up in the back of the net, but Cayden Primeau, as he has done all tournament, weathered the storm.

With about 10 minutes left in the first period, the United States went to the power play. Poehling took the puck down the left wing a let a shot guy. The puck went up in the air and both teams were scrambling. The puck looked as if it was covered by the Finnish goalie, but it was still loose. Islanders first round pick, Oliver Wahlstrom, came across the tracks and buried it in the back of the net. After a long discussion by the refs it was determined that the play was blown dead for a crease violation and a no-goal for the US. In my opinion, this was a bad call and should’ve been a good goal.

For the rest of the period, the United States were kept in check, but Finland ended up with 13 shots for the period. Primeu stood tall and kept it a scoreless game. The second period was much of the same. Both teams had their chances, but nothing was falling.

About halfway through the period, Barratt took a goalie interference penalty. On the ensuing power play, there was a United States zone faceoff with 38 seconds remaining in the power play. The Fins won the draw back to the point, and Ylonen smashed it home……1-0 Fins.

The second period ended with a score a 1-0 in favor of the Fins. The third period is where things started to open up. The United States found themselves on the doorstep early and often in the third period getting a handful of chances, but were not able to hammer it home.

The Americans were dominating play throughout the third and there was a strong buzz that they might tie it. It was with 14 minutes left in the period, the Fins squeezed another by Primeau and made it 2-0. The Americans though did not go down without a fight. They kept their composure, and 61 seconds later, Chemelevski found pay dirt.

A few chances came and went but it was when Chemelevski found Josh Norris on the right dot to bury another one home to tie it up at 2-2 with 11 minutes left. A lot more back and forth went on but ultimately this one ended in a heart breaker. It was with 1:26 left in a 2-2 game that Finnish dynamo, and New York Ranger hopeful, Kaappo Kakko made it 3-2 and eventually sealed the deal for the Fins, leaving the United States with the silver medal.

Synopsis: This was one of the best WJC tournaments I can remember in quite some time. The US was so close to brining home the gold and fell just short. It is an exciting time for things to come in both the US hockey front, and for some promising prospects for our New York Rangers. I did not mention his name at all in the recap, but K’Andre Miller was held at bay for the majority of this game. I wrote about Miller before so check that out on my overall grading of the current Wisconsin Badger.

Player takeaways: I have wrote in nearly every piece I have done, and constantly tweet about 2018 Canucks 1st round pick, Quinn Hughes. Quinn was absolutely sensational all tournament, and the Canucks have yet another top notch prospect waiting in the weeds.

Two players that jumped off the page for me were Americans Joel Farabee and Josh Norris; both of which are Philadelphia Flyers prospects. That both had fantastic tournaments, and are two players I think you will see very soon skating on Broad Street…….it is remarkable to me that Ron Hextall lost his job but that’s a conversation for a different piece.

The obvious ones: If that game wasn’t evident enough that Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko are going to be the first two picks in the 2019 draft, I don’t know what is. Hughes is probably the most noticeable player on the ice at all times, and Kakko isn’t too far behind him…..not to mention he scored that sealed the deal for the Fins. I have written this many times before, and I will say it again; the New York Rangers NEED one of these two kids.