Puljujärvi’s Hat Trick Lifts Finland to U18 Gold

The 2016 IIHF U18 World Championship ended in blowout fashion between traditional hockey rivals, as Finland topped Nordic rival Sweden 6-1 for gold and host United States routed their neighbors to the north 10-3.

Both games took place Sunday in Grand Forks, N.D., after Finland beat the U.S. 4-2 and Sweden needed the shootout to beat Canada 6-5 in the semifinals.

In the gold medal game, Jesse Puljujärvi’s hat trick over the second and third periods turned the game into a route as the Fins won their first gold medal since 2000. The fell to the American’s in the gold medal game last year in Switzerland. Puljujärvi is ranked as the No. 3 European skater heading into the 2016 Draft by NHL Central Scouting (NHLCS). He finished the tournament with five goals in four games, far less games played compared to others above him who played six or seven games.

Finland also got goals from Eeli Tolvanen (2017 Draft eligible) , Otto Somppi (2016 Draft- Rated 78th N.A. skater by NHLCS) and Eetu Tuulola (2016 Draft- Rated 19th EU skater by NHLCS) had the other goals for Finland. Janne Kuokkanen (2016 Draft- Rated 20th EU skater by NHLCS) had three assists in the victory. Sweden’s goal in the second period came from 2017 Draft prospect Lian Andersson.

The bronze medal game was a match up most people expected to be for the gold – it was the first time since 2001 that the gold medal game did not feature Canada or the United States. And the result was the largest margin of victory in a bronze medal game, surpassing the Sweden 7-1 win over Belarus in the 2000 bronze game.

The scoring came early and often for the Americans, as they scored six goals in a 12:08 span in the first period. By the time the horn sounded to end the opening frame, the score was already 6-1.

Scoring twice in the first period was 2016 Draft prospect Joey Anderson. He opened the scoring at 4:40 and added a shorthanded tally at 14:11. He’s rated 56th among North American skaters according to NHLCS. Logan Brown scored twice in the first period and added an assist in the second. Brown is rated No. 7 among North American skaters according to NHLCS. Clayton Keller and Casey Mittelstadt each posted three assists. Keller is rated No. 9 in the 2016 draft among North American skaters and Mittelstadt is Draft eligible in 2017. 2017 Draft prospect Kailer Yamamoto had a goal and two assists against Canada and finished the tournament as the third leading scorer with seven goals and six assists.

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