U.S. opens title defense with win

Updated: December 27, 2010, 12:35 AM ET
Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The U.S. hockey team opened its defense of the world junior title the way it closed last year's tournament -- with a thrilling overtime win.

Nick Bjugstad scored with 1:52 left in overtime and the Americans beat Finland 3-2 on Sunday night.

Bjugstad snapped a wrist shot that got by goalie Joni Ortio, who stopped 27 of 30 shots.

"I think it was a hard win, but one that will be good for us," Team USA coach Keith Allain said. "It was a hard win, but good for us to build on too."

Goalie Jack Campbell stopped 32 of 34 shots. Justin Faulk and Jason Zucker also scored for the U.S. while Joonas Nattinen and Iiro Pakarinen -- who tied the game with 7:01 left in the third -- tallied for Finland.

Team USA took a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal as Faulk's slap shot from the point sailed over Ortio's shoulder at 18:54 of the first period.

Finland broke through at 13:50 of the second after Campbell misplayed the puck behind his net. Toni Rajala chipped the puck from Campbell, and then sent a pass to Nattinen who evened the game at 1-1.

Just a minute, 18 seconds later, Zucker gave the US a 2-1 lead. Chris Brown's forecheck caused a turnover deep in the Finland zone. Zucker pounced on the loose puck and beat Ortio on the short side.

Team USA won last year's title with a 6-5 overtime win over Canada -- beating Finland in the quarterfinals on its way to the title. With this year's tournament in nearby Buffalo, many of the Canadian fans who witnessed Canada's 6-3 win over Russia stayed to cheer -- for Finland. Something that wasn't lost on Team USA's coach.

"It's great to have fans in the building to make noise," Allan said. "but sat the end of the day, it's just noise."

In other action, Canada scored three third-period goals in a 6-3 win over Russia. Sweden crusied to a 7-1 win over Norway and Switzerland scored four first-period goals but hung on for a 4-3 win over Germany.

Three third period goals Ryan Johansen, Brayden Schenn and Curtis Hamilton broke a 3-3 deadlock as Team Canada scored a 6-3 win over Russia.

Olivier Roy made 24 saves for Canada while Marcus Foligno, son of former Buffalo Sabres forward Mike Foligno, scored Canada's first goal of the tournament and performed his father's celebratory "leap" after scoring his goal.

In the day's opening game at HSBC Arena, Switzerland capitalized on 3-of-4 first period power play chances in a 4-3 win. Switzerland's Benjamin Conz made 32 saves as Germany mounted a furious rally and outshot Switzerland 35-21.

In Niagara Falls, Sweden's Patrick Cehlin tallied three points, scoring two goals in a 7-1 romp over Norway.

Sebastian Wannstrom, Gabriel Landeskog, Anton Lander, Tim Erixon and John Klingberg each finished with two points as the Swedes outshot Norway 46-11.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press