World Juniors 2013 Pre-Tournament: Finland 5, USA 1 - What Just Happened?

I can't do this all by myself, guys! - Bruce Bennett

John Gibson made 25 saves but that wasn't enough to give Team USA the win.

To summarize the game in a single sentence: USA took too many costly penalties and Finland capitalized. The game gave me nightmarish visions of Team USA's showing at the 2012 World Juniors, where a bad game against Finland marked the beginning of a steep decline that left them in the relegation round (they ended up finishing in seventh place). It is important to remember that this is a pre-tournament game, though. And before I become too hysterical, let's talk about what happened today.

Finland scored first, holding on to a 1-0 lead until the third period. (Rocco Grimaldi's no-goal in the first period was in fact a goal, as video review later showed, but it wouldn't have made much of a difference in the end). In addition to having bad luck with the refs, Team USA struggled at even strength and couldn't handle Finland's speed.

The game was competitive (at least on paper) until the US gave up four goals in the third period. Yikes. Three of the four goals were power play goals. Team USA almost sounds like the Ducks, which would be funny if it wasn't so sad. Our only goal of the game came from Michigan Tech's Blake Pietila (New Jersey Devils)- which did give Team USA some momentum. But that momentum quickly vanished after a - guess what? - penalty!

It's imperative that John Gibson finds some way to shake this off. He is Team USA's undisputed number one goalie, and their performance in the tournament will depend on his poise (no Team Canada goalie controversy here).

USA Hockey was expected to make the final cuts to their roster after today's final tune-up game, but due to a health emergency involving an undisclosed player, they have decided to hold off until 3 AM ET. (I'm seriously considering staying up to hear the final roster). Before today's game, Chris Peters of the United States of Hockey thought that Harvard's Jim Vesey, the Windsor Spitfires' Pat Sieloff, and Brady Skjei would be the three players cut, but no one really knows what will happen in light of the recent news.

Team USA will not see action again until Dec. 27, when they play Germany. That should be an easy win. Hopefully.

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