Joel Armia had two goals and an assist to lead Finland to a 4-1 win over the United States in a Pool B preliminary-round game Wednesday at the world junior hockey championship.
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The Americans are considered one of the tournament favorites.
But Finland and the United States are both 1-1 in Pool B.
Armia, a first-round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres, paced the Finland offense. Mikael Granlund, another first-round selection of the Minnesota Wild, and Nashville Predators prospect Mikka Salomaki also scored.
Brandon Saad of the US tied the score early in the third period, but Armia’s first goal at 10:53 of the third period put the Finns ahead again.
Sami Aittokallio made 38 saves on 39 shots in Finland’s net for the win. John Gibson allowed four goals on 27 shots for the United States.
Finland rebounded from an 8-1 loss to Canada to open the tournament Monday and regained some confidence with the win.
”Of course our players wanted to show up and show how good of players they are,” Finland coach Raimo Helminen said. ”That Canada game kind of put them in a bad situation and today they showed everyone they can play hockey.
”We’re not a big team, but pretty hungry and work hard.”
The US won the bronze medal at the 2011 world junior championships in Buffalo, N,Y., and have seven players back from that team. Dean Blais coached the US to gold at the 2010 tournament in Canada and he is back behind the US bench this year.
The US has size on defense. Jarred Tinordi is 6 foot 7 and there are three others 6 feet 4 or taller. The Finns were beating the Americans to the puck, however, and their passing was crisper.
”Sometimes when you see that 8-1 score, you think we’re going to do the same thing, but you’ve got to give them credit,” Blais said. ”Their goaltender played well, they got to the net and we didn’t get to the net as much as Canada did.
”I thought we had too many guys who were passengers tonight.”
Armia scored Finland’s fourth goal of the game. On a partial breakaway and trying to keep control of the puck, he slid the puck between Gibson’s pads to put Finland up 2-1 at 10:53 of the third.
Salomaki scored the first goal of the game 1:11 into the second period.
Saad tied the game 19 seconds into the third. But Finland outshot the US 15-14 in the third period. Granlund’s goal at 11:22 and Armia’s second of the game at 16:27 sealed the victory.
Both Finland and the US have Thursday off before Finland meets Denmark and the US faces the Czechs on Friday.
In the other Pool B game, Mark Scheifele scored a pair of goals to lead Canada to a 5-0 win over the Czech Republic.
Mark Stone, Ryan Strome and Brett Connolly of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning also scored for Canada, who are 2-0 in Pool B.
Scott Wedgewood got his first start of the tournament, stopping 26 shots for the shutout. Wedgewood also picked up an assist on Canada’s second goal late in the second period.
Petr Mrazek was in the Czech net for the second game in a row after stopping 12 shots in a 7-0 win over Denmark. Mrazek turned away 33 of 38 shots.
Canada faces Denmark (0-2) on Thursday. The host country concludes the preliminary round Saturday against the United States.
Scheifele, a first-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets, scored his first two goals of the tournament in the third period. Tanner Pearson assisted on both of them. On Scheifele’s first at the nine-minute mark, Pearson set it up with a pass from his knees behind the net. Scheifele’s second was a power-play goal at 13:40.
At Calgary, Sebastian Collberg scored in the shootout to lead Sweden to a 4-3 win over Switzerland.
”(Collberg) has a lot of moves,” Swedish coach Roger Ronnberg said. ”He usually takes the penalty shots for us.”
Collberg faked to his forehand before firing a backhand over Swiss goalie Lukas Meili.
”I always do that one first time,” said Collberg, a 17-year-old prospect who is eligible for the 2012 draft. ”I was really happy. You get confidence out there when you score. It feels good.”
Meili was spectacular for Switzerland (0-1-1), stopping 51 shots in regulation and overtime.
”He was really good,” Swiss coach Manuele Celio said. ”He kept us in the game.”
Ludvig Rensfeldt had a goal and an assist in regulation for Sweden (2-0) while Max Friberg and Joakim Nordstrom also scored.
Also in Calgary, Mikhail Naumenkov scored the game-winning goal at 1:45 of the third period to lead Russia to a 3-1 win over Slovakia.
Ignat Zemchenko won an offensive zone faceoff cleanly right onto the stick of Naumenkov, who quickly fired a shot past Slovakian goalie Juraj Simboch.
Igor Ozhiganov and Nikita Gusev also scored for Russia (2-0), which will face Latvia in the lone Pool A game on Thursday night.
Milos Bubela scored for Slovakia (1-1). Andrei Makarov finished with 31 saves in the Russian net for the win. Simboch stopped 37 of 40 shots he faced for Slovakia.