Gauthier’s Late Goal Propels Team USA Into The Gold Medal Game Against Host Sweden

Cutter Gauthier’s late power-play goal gave the United States a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Finland to earn the team a spot in the gold-medal game tomorrow night against hosts Sweden. Gauthier wired a high shot over the glove of Niklas Kokko with only 3:13 remaining in regulation. The Finns led 2-0 after one period but let the lead slip away in the middle frame.

The first period showed the contrasting styles of the two teams. The Americans relied on speed, transition, and puck movement. They frequently made their way into Finland’s end impressively, but once there the Finns kept them to the outside and Niklas Kokko had few tough saves to make. His biggest one came early, when Gavin Brindley, who co-leads the tournament with six goals, got in alone, but the goalie stood tall and made the save calmly.

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The Finns kept it simple, chipping the puck out at the first sign of trouble or chipping in deep and chasing it down. They created several turnovers in the U.S. the most egregious of which led to the opening goal.  Tommi Mannisto stripped Sam Rinzel of the puck and beat Trey Augustine with a quick shot at 1:51. The Finns pressed more and had good puck time in the American end, and Augustine had to be on his toes to keep the score close.

Another unexpected strike gave Finland a 2-0 lead at 12:45. Samu Bau’s harmless wrister from the point was expertly tipped by Rasmus Kumpulainen in front, and the puck slithered between the goalie’s pads and in. The problem with Finland’s strategy is that although it looks simple, the players still have to skate hard. In the second, however, the Finns all but stopped playing. The U.S., meanwhile, cleaned up play in their end—and they weren’t there very much—and poured it on when they saw Finland take their foot off the pedal. The result was a dominant period for the Stars ‘n’ Stripes—and a tie game. 

Quinn Finley, Will Smith, and Oliver Moore all had great chances to score in the first half of the period but couldn’t beat Kokko, who was sharp. But when the Americans got their first power play, they clicked impressively. Jimmy Snuggerud blasted a one-timer over the goalies’ glove at 12:10 to halve the lead, and four minutes later one of many defensive lapses by the Finns gave the U.S. another opening.

Gabe Perreault spotted Smith to the back side and fed him a perfect pass, and the puck was in the net before Kokko knew what had happened. By this point, the Finns were lucky to be in a 2-2 game after 40 minutes. The only question left for the third was whether the U.S. could keep it going or whether the Finns could right the boat.

Matt Bednarczyk
Matt Bednarczyk

Matt Bednarczyk is your host of Talking Philly Sports With Matty B. He is a proud retired US Army Sergeant First Class, he is also a combat veteran with over 80 months served in Afganistan, and Iraq . Huge Hockey Fan. Matt is a lifelong 4 for 4 Philly sports fan. Born and raised on the Mayfair and Tacony neighborhood lines of Northeast Philly. He brings over 40 years of Philadelphia Sports passion and provides a realistic look at our Major Sports Teams and the most passionate sports fans on the planet. Look for his show live on Edge of Philly Sports.