Finland scores late to beat U.S. in gold-medal game
Russia defeats Switzerland for bronze
Finland is taking home gold from this year's world junior hockey championship after beating the United States 3-2 in a dramatic final on Saturday in Vancouver.
Seventeen-year-old Kaapo Kakko scored the game winner with just 1:26 to go in the third period.
"We have grown up as players and a group."
The Americans had clawed their way back from a two-goal deficit in the third period with goals from Josh Norris and Alexander Chmelevski.
Jesse Ylonen and Otto Latvala also scored for Finland.
Watch Finland scores dramatic winner in world juniors final:
Cayden Primeau stopped 28 of 31 for the U.S.
"At the end of the day it's about who stops the puck more. We didn't get that on our side so that's why we came up short," said Primeau.
Finland started the scoring, putting away a power-play goal 11:31 into the second period after U.S. forward Evan Barratt was called for goalie interference.
The Finns won a faceoff and got the puck to Ylonen, who wound up and blew a rocket past Primeau.
The Montreal Canadiens prospect had three goals and three assists in the tournament.
Team Finland 🇫🇮 celebrate their amazing win over Team USA! <a href="https://twitter.com/leijonat?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@leijonat</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WorldJuniors?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WorldJuniors</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Champions?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Champions</a> <a href="https://t.co/2kcqhSGoXN">pic.twitter.com/2kcqhSGoXN</a>—@IIHFHockey
Latvala padded his team's lead six minutes into the third period, using a series of screens to block Primeau's view of his high shot.
The San Jose Sharks prospect also helped tie the game up 8:47 into the frame, dishing a pass across the ice to Norris, who put the puck past Luukkonen to make it 2-2.
Americans 0-for-5 on power play
The Americans also had a flurry of power-play chances throughout the game, and thought they had scored on one only to have it overturned by video review.
Oliver Wahlstrom put back a rebound, but officials determined it was a no goal because Chmelevski was in the crease.
The U.S. finished 0-for-5 with the man advantage.
Slepets leads Russia to bronze
Earlier in the day, Russia beat Switzerland 5-2 to capture bronze on the strength of a hat trick from Kirill Slepets.
It's the ninth bronze for the Russians at the world juniors and 22nd medal overall.
Klim Kostin and Nikita Shashkov also found the net, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 34 saves. Valentin Nussbaumer and Yannick Bruschweiler scored for Switzerland, which earned its best finish since coming fourth at the 2010 tournament in Saskatchewan.
Watch highlights of Russia's win over Switzerland:
Canada finished sixth after losing to Finland in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Finland posted a convincing 6-1 win over Switzerland in the semifinals. But the team's performance was lacklustre through the group phase of this year's tournament, with victories over Slovakia and Russia and losses to Sweden and the U.S.
"We have shown it from the Canada game on we have grown up as a group," said Luukkonen. "We kept playing better in every game. That was the biggest thing for us.
"Every team that comes here comes to win the gold medal. We had our ups and downs in the tournament. In the end we got the gold medal so there is nothing more we can ask."
The Americans lost a single game in the round-robin, dropping a 5-4 overtime decision to Sweden on Dec. 29.
They punched their ticket to the finals by beating the Czechs 3-1 on Wednesday, then downing the Russians 2-1 on Friday.