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No Ball Dropped Tonight. USA Beats Finland 4-1 And Will Face The Czech Republic In The Quarterfinals Of The World Juniors

Sweden v United States - 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship

Do you get it? Pretty witty and clever headline, no? It’s a play on words from the classic “New Years Rockin’ Eve”. Only I changed “rockin” to “hockin” because we’re talking about a hockey game here. I realize this humor may be considered a little too high brow for most of you but if you have the mental capacity to really appreciate the subtly in the humor, well then you’re having a blast already!

But anyways. Here we are. It’s the final game for the preliminary round of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship. I think we can all agree that New Years Eve is better when we have a border wars on the schedule between USA and Canada but beggars can’t be chooser. So a rematch of the 1980 Olympic gold medal game? I’ll take it. Sidenote–it’s always a common misconception that The Miracle On Ice was the gold medal game but that’s just simply untrue. USA vs Finland obviously went well for the Americans in 1980 and hopefully it’s the same result tonight. Because as it stands right now, Team USA is 2nd place in Group B with 7 points (2-0-1-0) and Finland is sitting in 3rd place with 6 points (2-1-0-0). Any sort of a win tonight–regulation or overtime–means that Team USA can hold onto that 2nd position in the group and will get to play the 3rd place team in Group A in the quarterfinals. An overtime win will keep them in 2nd place thanks to the point they got after that comeback from being down 4-0 against Sweden to force overtime. So thank you Sweden for that.

A loss of any kind–regulation or overtime–would mean that Finland would jump Team USA in the standings because even if they both end up with 8 points, Finland will have the better goal differential. So a win tonight for USA means they’ll start off with Czech Republic in the quarterfinals. A loss means they’ll have to go up against Canada. Soooo yeah, obviously starting off with the Czechs would be a little easier route to gold. And as of right now, Vegas thinks that’ll end up being the case for Team USA as the puck line favorites. But the odds on the game clearly look like this shit could come down to the final minutes.

Screen Shot 2018-12-31 at 3.42.07 PM

Now I’ve got a little good news/bad news type of sitch here. The bad news is that Jack Hughes has been ruled out again for now the 3rd straight game with an undisclosed injury so we won’t get to see the Jack Hughes vs Kaapo Kakko matchup tonight. That–for the lack of a better phrase–sucks a ton of dick. The #1 vs #2 pick in the upcoming 2019 draft would have been a real juicy way to ring in the new year. But the good news? Well Team USA won’t be wearing their absolute shit sweaters tonight. Instead, they’ll be trading those dog shit uniforms in for these beauties.

Team USA is always at their best whilst rocking the 1960 throwback sweaters so even without Jack Hughes in the lineup, I love their chances. So without further ado, let’s gets this live blog underway.

Follow along on Twitter @BarstoolJordie for up to minute highlights/updates. And then I’ll be updating the blog at the end of each period throughout the game. 

1st Period Updates: USA 1, Finland 0

Each team had a couple of powerplay opportunities in the opening period of the final game of 2018, but for the first 19:50 of the game, nobody was able to find the back of the net. Had a feeling that tonight’s game was going to be relatively low scoring but I wasn’t expecting a 0-0 1st period. Fortunately, there was still 10 seconds left in the period to play and that’s when Joel Farabee picked up a loose puck, dished it over to Jason Robertson and then Robertson sent Team USA into the 1st intermission with a lead.

With teams as skilled as USA and Finland, this is pretty much like an NHL game in the sense that you’re going to pay for every single mistake you make throughout the game. So however makes the fewest mistakes will most likely get out of here with a win. Finland has made the biggest mistake so far and it shows on the scoreboard.

2nd Period Updates: USA 2, Finland 0

Finland looks like they’ve picked it up physically so far this period but it hasn’t shown up on the scoreboard yet. Fortunately for Team USA, they added on to their lead before Finland has a chance to knock everyone out of the game. This time it’s a nasty nasty feed from Josh Norris over to Tyler Madden for the 2-0 lead.

Obviously as we saw in the Sweden game the other night, no lead is safe in this tournament. And as they say, a 2-goal lead is the worst lead in soccer and the worst lead in soccer is the worst lead in hockey. So still plenty of hockey to be played but definitely better to be up 2-0 instead of being down 2-0. Trust me, I’m an expert.

And a few minutes later, Ryan Poehling scores his 5th goal of the tournament to put Team USA up 3-0 in the 2nd period.

Sick speed to turn the corner there and a sick shot as well. Filthy stuff all around. 20 minutes to go. Happy New Years, boys and girls.

3rd Period Updates: USA 4, Finland 1

And the first hockey goal of 2019 is scored by THE United States of America. This is just pure Hard Dick Hockey from Tyler Madden on the powerplay to give USA the 4-0 lead here in the 3rd.

Go hard to the net and good things happen.

Well, folks, I think it’s time to start asking the question; Is 4-0 the worst lead at the World Juniors? Because after giving up the first 4 goals of the game, Finland finally got one on the board for themselves.

USA came back from down 4-0 to force overtime against Sweden. Guess Finland is trying to be a bunch of heckin’ copycats.

But fortunately, that’s how the game would end. So now Team USA closes out the preliminary round with the 2nd seed in Group B and will face Czech Republic in the quarterfinals instead of having to go up against Canada right away. Here’s what the quarterfinal matchups look like.

See all you beautiful people then and there. Thanks to all for spending some of your New Years with me as USA kicked the shit out of Finland. Couldn’t ask for a better way to ring in 2019.

FINAL SCORE: USA 4, Finland 1

@BarstoolJordie