U.S. beats Finland at world juniors

Updated: December 29, 2005, 8:19 PM ET
Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- University of Minnesota forward Blake Wheeler scored two goals to help the United States beat Finland 6-5 on Wednesday night in the world junior hockey championships.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Wheeler, drafted fifth overall last summer by the Phoenix Coyotes, made a pretty play on his second goal to put the United States up 5-3 with 42 seconds left in the second period. Wheeler took a pass from Bobby Ryan on his backhand, neatly pulled it to his forehand, then beat goalie Karri Ramo.

Ryan, who plays for Owen Sound in the Ontario Hockey League, had a power-play goal and two assists for the Americans (2-0 in Group A play).

Tom Fritsche (Ohio State), Brian Lee (North Dakota) and Kevin Porter (Michigan) also had power-play goals for the United States.

Rob Schremp, the leading scorer in the OHL for London, added three assists. Minnesota freshman star Phil Kessel, projected to be the first pick in the next NHL draft, had two assists, giving him seven for the tournament.

Mikko Alikoski, Aki Seitsonen, Lauri Tukonen, Henri Heino and Teemu Laakso scored for Finland (0-2).

In the other Group A game at PNE Coliseum, Dustin Boyd and Steve Downie each had a goal and an assist in Canada's 4-3 victory over Switzerland.

Tom Pyatt and David Bolland also scored for Canada (2-0), which had a 4-1 lead midway through the second period. Julien Sprunger had a goal and an assist for Switzerland (1-1), and Eric Blum and Yannick Weber also scored.

"We've got to get better and we will get better," Canada coach Brent Sutter said. "That being said, our opponent was a tough opponent. At the end of a day, it's a win."

Justin Pogge made 17 saves for his second straight victory for Canada, 16-0 against Switzerland in tournament history.

In Kamloops, Sebastian Karlsson, Johannes Salmonsson and Oscar Hedman scored goals in Sweden's 3-2 victory over the Czech Republic in Group B. Tomas Kana and Vladimir Sobotka scored for the Czech Republic. Both teams are 1-1.

In Kelowna, Evgeni Malkin scored once and set up another goal in Russia's five-goal first period in a 6-2 victory over Slovakia in Group B.

Gennady Churilov, Nikolai Lemtyugov, Enver Lisin, Ilia Zubov and Alexei Emelin also scored for Russia (2-0). Andrej Sekera and Stanislav Lascek scored for Slovakia (1-1).

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press