Finland Beats USA to Win Gold Medal at 2019 World Junior Hockey Championship

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2019

VANCOUVER, BC - JANUARY 5: Oskari Laaksonen #2, Valtteri Puustinen #13 and Anton Lundell #29 of Finland celebrates with goal scorer Jesse Ylonen #27 of Finland (not pictured) taking a 1-0 lead over the United States in Gold Medal hockey action of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship on January, 5, 2019 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

After more than a week of games, one team has staked its claim as the best in the world after besting the rest of the competition at the 2019 World Junior Hockey Championship.

Finland was crowned champion on Saturday after pulling out a dramatic 3-2 victory over the United States at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Russia claimed the bronze with a 5-2 victory over Switzerland in the third-place game earlier in the day. Last year marked the only time since 2011 that Russia has failed to medal, as it has one gold, three silvers and four bronzes during that span.

Here are the results from Saturday's action.

     

2019 World Junior Hockey Championship Schedule (Saturday, Jan. 5)

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Third-place game: Russia 5, Switzerland 2

Championship game: Finland 3, United States 2

     

Finland 3, United States 2

The United States took down Finland 4-1 back on Dec. 31, but with the stakes having been raised, there was a different outcome in the rematch.

And what a way to decide the championship game.

The United States had piled up 23 goals in their six previous games, including an eight-piece against Kazakhstan back on Dec. 28. Meanwhile, Finland had totaled 20 goals in six contests and was coming off its top output of the tournament, netting six against Switzerland in the semifinals. And yet, it was not until the game was more than halfway over by the time either team got on the board.

Finland's Jesse Ylonen opened the scoring by ripping a power-play goal on a one-timer past United States goalie Cayden Primeau with just less than nine minutes remaining in the second period.

Oskari Laaksonen and Valtteri Puustinen picked up the assists on the goal.

That proved to be the only goal during the course of the first two periods, but the action seriously heated up after the second intermission.

Finland appeared to take control of the game when Otto Latvala beat Primeau to extend the lead to 2-0:

However, the United States quickly responded by beating Finland goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen for the first time a minute later:

But the Stars and Stripes weren't done. The Americans managed to even the score when Josh Norris lit the lamp moments later:

After having just one goal through the first 46 minutes of the game, the two teams combined for three goals in less than three minutes. As a result, the gold medal would be decided in the final 11 minutes.

Ultimately, the game-winner wasn't scored until the final 90 seconds, when Kaapo Kakko put Finland on top for good:

The United States made a push for the equalizer, but it couldn't find a way to stop Finland from celebrating:

It marks Finland's fifth title, with its last coming back in 2016.

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