Sunday, February 13, 2011

USA wins 5 Nations Cup

Reid Boucher scored 3 goals in the final game and led the tournament
overall with 10 points. Photo: Stanislav Souček,
The United States national U18 team beat Finland 7-4 on Sunday to win the Five Nations Cup in Hradec Králové, finishing with a perfect 4-0 record. The Finns were a perfect 3-0 heading into Sunday's game, making it the de-facto gold medal game.

The US team was the consensus favourite of the tournament, but not many expected the Finns to be the team that would challenge them for first place. This is especially considering that they were without two of their top players, Joel Armia and Miika Salomaki. But they beat their first three opponents and gave the Americans a good battle through half of the game.

The score was tied 2-2 after a period and the the teams' top offensive lines traded goals early in the second. First Rocco Grimaldi's shot was stopped by Samsu Perhonen, but Reid Boucher fired the rebound top shelf to give the Americans a 3-2 lead. A minute and a half later, the Finnish line of Ville Jarvelainen, Markus Granlund, and Toni Kallela equalized it, with Jarvelainen providing the finishing touch.

Tough guys Rasmus Ristolainen (left) and J.T. Miller mix it up.
Photo: Stanislav Souček,
Boucher's skill later drew a slashing penalty, when Olli Maatta took a chop at him while trying to slow him. Moments after the penalty's expiration, Cole Bardreau gave the lead back to the Americans. Late in the period, Perhonen misplayed Travis Boyd's bad-angle shot to give the US a two-goal lead.

Boucher scored twice more in the third period to complete his hattrick and finish the tournament with 10 points for the overall lead. Linemate Grimaldi finished second with 8. Miro Aaltonen rounded out the scoring for Finland in the second to last minute of play.

US coach Ron Rolston wasn't surprised by Finland's second-place finish. "We actually played them in the Four Nations and it was a 3-2 game," he said. "So we knew that they’re gonna be very good as they play so hard and they have a good team speed. And they have a good goaltender, too. I think this age group is very close. There’s a lot of good teams and I think there are probably four or five different teams that could win at the end of the year (at the World U18 Championships in April)."

Click here to read a complete wrap-up of the tournament at

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