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WJHC: United States advances to semis with win over Finland

The Canadian Press

1/3/2010 1:22:30 AM

SASKATOON - Coming off a heartbreaking loss to Canada on New Year's Eve that they could have won, the United States left no doubt who the better side was in their quarter-final.

The Americans owned the ice from the very beginning, trumping Finland 6-2 at the world junior championships Saturday night.

They will now take on Sweden in the semifinals Sunday night.

The Americans wasted little time establishing themselves against the Finns, with Kyle Palmieri and Matt Donovan scoring early in the first to establish a lead their opponents would not recover from.

"Getting up 2-0 on that team kind of puts them back," said Jordan Schroeder, who recorded three assists on the night. "You don't want to get down to those guys because it's tough to comeback."

The early jump for the Americans was crucial, considering they were coming off a disappointing 5-4 shootout loss to Canada on New Year's Eve.

Head coach Dean Blais described the loss as "frustrating", but was delighted with how his team responded.

"The loss to Canada hurt, but a lot of good things came out of that game," said Blais. "And if we knew we could skate with them, then we could skate with anybody."

After losing last year to Slovakia in the quarter-finals 5-3, the U.S was looking for redemption.

"It's in the past now," said Schroeder, who is appearing in his third world junior tournament. "The leaders on this team knew what happened last year.

"I think they really stepped up today and yesterday trying to explain to the guys that this (was) a do or die game."

Schroeder now has 26 points all-time at the world juniors and passes Jeremy Roenick's United States record of 25 points in the process.

Jerry D'Amigo scored his first of two goals midway through the second to put the Americans up 3-0, but Finn Eero Elo gave his team life with a goal before the period was out.

In the end, the Finns were just a step behind the Americans.

"We were too nervous," said Finland captain Jyri Niemi. "We weren't ready to play and they scored right away and we put ourselves in a big whole right off the bat.

"We didn't have any luck, but you have to earn your luck."

The Finns will take on Russia in the fifth-place game on Monday.

Chris Kreider scored to open the third to give the Americans a 4-1 lead. When Iiro Pakarinen made it 4-2 with five minutes left in the game, it was too late for the Scandinavian side.

D'Amigo potted an empty net goal, and Danny Kristo scored nine seconds later to cement the win.

"We had our chances to play in the semis," said Niemi. "We blew it ourselves -- we didn't play at our level."

Mike Lee stopped 23 shots in the win for the United States. Joni Ortio made 38 saves in the loss.