TAMPERE, Finland — For the second straight year, Team USA lost in the semifinal round of the ice hockey world championship.
Dallas Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen had a goal and two assists as host Finland outlasted the Americans, 4-3, in front of 11,055 fans on Saturday. Montreal Canadiens forward Joel Armia and former New Jersey Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen added a goal and an assist each, as Finland secured a second-straight championship appearance against Canada.
“It’s special,” said Finland’s Mikko Lehtonen, a former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman who has 10 points in the tournament. “At the moment, it’s always one game. It’s a final. It doesn’t matter who you play, but in front of the home fans, it’s always special for us.”
Canada, which won the tournament last season, powered past Czechia, 6-1, in the second semifinal. Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens scored twice for Canada, a team that is loaded with NHL players whose current teams are not in the postseason.
“We came here to win,” Canada’s Ryan Graves, a defenseman for the Devils, said. “We take pride in our hockey. As Canadians, hockey’s in our blood, so I know everyone back home is rooting for us to get gold. It’s an honor to play for your country and that’s the whole reason we come over here.”
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Ottawa Senators forward Adam Gaudette scored for Team USA, and Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman — a late addition to the roster after Boston was eliminated in Round 1 by the Carolina Hurricanes — made 22 saves in the loss. Last year, the Americans lost to Canada, 4-2, in the semifinal round.
“It’s definitely a tough one,” American left wing Sean Farrell, a Canadiens prospect, said. “We battled as hard as we could, but they’re a really good team and they ended up coming out on top. We’ve just gotta refocus and be ready to battle for a bronze (Sunday).”
Team USA will meet Czechia in the third-place game on Sunday.
For Finland, this will be its third consecutive championship final. The Finns outlasted Canada, 3-1, in 2019, and the tournament was canceled in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everybody’s cheering for us,” Finland forward Mikael Granlund, a center for the Nashville Predators, said. “We just try to take all the energy we can from that. It should be fun (Sunday), but we gotta get prepared, enjoy this one for a bit, and get ready for the next one.”
Source: ESPN NHL