ISIGUZO’S OT WINNER GIVES FINNS FIFTH WITH WIN OVER U.S.
JASON LA ROSE
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Bernard Isiguzo jammed in the game-winner at 6:32 of overtime, giving Finland a 5-4 extra-time win over the United States in Friday’s fifth-place game at the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
After an initial shot from Finnish defenceman Aleksi Anttalainen, Isiguzo drove to the net and poked the rebound past U.S. netminder Dylan St. Cyr for the deciding goal.
Finland had another strong showing at the tournament – it was fourth last year in Sarnia-Lambton, Ont. – while the Americans sixth-place finish is their worst since they came ninth in 1997.
Both teams came out with little to no regard for defence, combining for six goals and 26 shots in the first period.
Teemu Engberg got the party started just 2:07 in, batting a bouncing puck past a surprised St. Cyr, but Sasha Chmelevski took advantage of a turnover at the offensive blue-line to equalize for the U.S. five minutes later.
The Finnish floodgates opened from there, with three goals in the next 6:27.
Kristian Vesalainen restored Finland’s lead at 8:17, walking into the slot and beating St. Cyr, and Eeli Tolvanen netted his tournament-leading ninth goal just 73 seconds later, going bar-down over the American netminder’s glove.
Vesalainen’s second of the period made it 4-1 at 14:44 after Joni Ikonen circled the net before finding the big left winger standing all alone at the top of the U.S. crease.
Undaunted, the Americans began to chip away at the lead; Scott Reedy pulled the U.S. back within two in the final minute of the opening frame, taking a cross-ice feed from Logan Hustsko and beating Finnish goaltender Lassi Lehtinen.
Outshot 19-7 in the first period, the U.S. turned the tables in the second, holding a 13-7 advantage, and made it a one-goal game on the power play at 17:21 when Quinn Hughes stick-handled his way into the slot before beating Lehtinen.
Reedy’s second of the game – a hard, low shot that richocheted off the far post and behind Lehtinen – tied the game with 4:37 to go and forced the extra period.
Finland finished with a 40-29 advantage in shots on goal.