(left) Tyler Ruegsegger
LIBEREC, Czech Republic – DU player Tyler Ruegsegger scored what turned out to be the game winner against Finland today. The U.S. National Junior Team built a 5-0 lead through two periods and finished with a 5-3 victory over Finland in the final preliminary-round game for both teams at the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship here tonight.
The USA finished 4-0 in the preliminary round and earned a bye to Friday's (Jan. 4) semifinals, where it will face the winner of Wednesday's (Jan. 2) Canada-Finland quarterfinal contest.
"I liked the way we played early in the game," said U.S. Head Coach John Hynes. "We got sloppy at times, especially in the third period, and we have to learn from that."
Team USA scored the two goals in the opening period and three in the 2nd period.
Tyler Ruegsegger's goal was wristed from the left faceoff circle that found the far side of the net. Kyle Okposo (NY Islanders) and Jamie McBain (University of Wisconsin) each gained assists on the goal.
Finland scored the only three goals of the third period, including a pair of power-play markers. Smith (15 saves) and Palmer (8 saves) combined in goal to gain the win for Team USA, while Helenius and Sateri totaled 24 stops in the losing effort for Finland.
NOTES: Team USA won its first four games in the World Junior Championship for only the second time. The United States also won its first four contests in 2004, a year in which it captured its only gold medal in the event ... Team USA will play the winner of the Canada-Finland quarterfinal game on Friday (Jan. 4) in the semifinals of the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship ... All Team USA games in the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship are audiocast live on usahockey.com ... In addition, all games of the medal round will be televised live by the NHL Network in the United States.