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Americans take silver in World Juniors

The U.S. National Junior Team and the four Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs it included were forced to settle for silver tonight after a 3-2 loss to Finland in the gold-medal game of the 2019 World Junior Championship at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Team USA included sophomore defensemen Mikey Anderson and Dylan Samberg and freshman forward Noah Cates, as well as Scott Sandelin, the UMD head coach who was a U.S. assistant for the two-week tournament.

Thanks to a couple of assists by Cates, the Americans rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to tie the game, but Kaapo Kakko scored the game-winning goal for Finland with 1:26 remaining in regulation.

The Americans appeared to take a 1-0 lead in the first period via a power-play goal by Oliver Wahlstrom at the 9:45 mark, but the goal was disallowed after video review showed the U.S. interfered with the Finnish goalie in the crease.

Finland wound up grabbing the 1-0 lead the U.S. thought it had, though it didn't come until 11:31 into the second period as Jesse Ylonen scored on a power play, getting assists from Oskari Laaksonen and Valtteri Puustinen.

Otto Latvala gave Finland a 2-0 lead six minutes into the third period with a shot from the blue line through traffic.

Alexander Chmelevski — the player who was blamed for interfering in the crease on Wahlstrom's no-goal — put Team USA on the board 61 seconds after Latvala's goal made it 2-1. Chmelevski then helped knot the game at 2-2, setting up Josh Norris at 8:47 of the third.

Both of the American scoring plays were jumpstarted by Cates, who was credited with the second assist on both goals.

The rally was spoiled by Kakko, who backhanded a shot past U.S. goalie Cayden Primeau during a scramble in front of the American crease. It was only Kakko's second goal of the World Juniors, giving his country its fifth gold at the event and first since 2016.

Primeau made 28 saves for the U.S. while Finland got 26 saves from goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

The silver medal was the fourth consecutive medal won by the U.S., which took bronze in 2016 and 2018 and gold in 2017. Anderson and Samberg were part of last year's bronze-medal team.

Anderson, the captain, led all U.S. defensemen in points with two goals and three assists. Samberg, of Hermantown, finished the tournament with two assists and a plus-3 rating. Cates had a goal and two assists.