The Americans scored first in their World Cup of Hockey semifinal matchup with Finland on Friday but for the first time in the tourney the first goal wasn’t enough as the Finns scored twice in the third period to rally for the win. It was the first time in the tournament that a lead-change occured.
Finland now awaits the winner of the Canada-Czech Republic matchup on Saturday night.
The United States opened the game’s scoring in the second period during a stretch of particularly dominating play. Team USA captain crushed Finland’s Ville Nieminnen into the glass and the St. Paul crowd got into the game with deafening chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” Just minutes later, while on a power play, Doug Weight drove to the net untouched and deflected a perfect pass from Scott Gomez past netminder Miikka Kiprusoff with 7:03 remaining in the period.
The Americans would give up the lead in the game’s final frame.
Olli Jokinen slapped a rebound from the slot by goaltender Robert Esche just 5:04 into the third and killed any momentum Team USA had.
Saku Koivu was left all alone in front of the net with 3:54 left to play and made the Americans pay, stuffing the puck past Esche to put the Finns up by a goal.
Even with a power play, Esche on the bench for an extra attacker, and Kiprusoff’s stick lying on the ice out of the reach of Finland’s goalie, the United States couldn’t get control of the game and were unable to score.
“We made a couple of mistakes in the third period, and that was the difference,” American coach Ron Wilson said. “That was a tight hockey game. We only gave up 12 shots on goal and found a way to lose. Unfortunately, that’s the way it goes.”