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USA beats Finland to advance to WJC semifinals

Sunday, 01.03.2010 / 12:54 AM / 2010 World Junior Championship

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

"I think we really stepped up today and yesterday trying to explain to the guys that this is a do-or-die game and we had to come ready and prepared against Finland because they're a good team, too." -- Jordan Schroeder

SASKATOON, Sask. -- Jordan Schroeder was on the ice last year when the U.S. lost a tough game to Canada in its final round-robin contest at the World Junior Championships and then followed it by getting shocked by Slovakia in the quarterfinals.

He was determined not to go through that again.

Saturday night against Finland, Schroeder set up a pair of first-period goals and added a third assist in the game's final minute as the U.S. advanced to the semifinals with a 6-2 victory over Finland. Canada will play Switzerland in the other semifinal after the Swiss upset Russia 3-2 in the first game.

Jerry D'Amigo scored twice and Kyle Palmieri, Matt Donovan, Chris Kreider and Danny Kristo all scored for the U.S. Goalie Mike Lee stopped 42 of 44 shots as the U.S. advances to play Sweden on Sunday night (8 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

Advancing is a nice feeling for Schroeder, who suffered in last year's quarterfinal loss.

"The leaders on this team knew what happened last year, especially the guys that were there," Schroeder said. "I think we really stepped up today and yesterday trying to explain to the guys that this is a do-or-die game and we had to come ready and prepared against Finland because they're a good team, too."

"He's one of our captains, he's a leader," said U.S. coach Dean Blais. "He's getting to be more of a leader as we go on here."

He's also a leader in the record book -- the 3 points give him 26 in his WJC career, one more than Jeremy Roenick to become the all-time leading scorer in U.S. WJC history.

"It's an honor to be part of that list," Schroeder said. "He (Roenick) is a tremendous player, always has been. Great accomplishment for me and I'm real proud of it."

Schroeder got the U.S. started early when he set up Palmieri's goal just 2:14 into the game. He entered the Finland zone, slammed on the brakes and fed a cutting Philip McRae. McRae fired a shot off the rush that Palmieri tipped past goalie Joni Ortio for his first goal of the tournament.

Schroeder helped make it 2-0 when he threw a sensational pass through the goal mouth to a pinching Donovan for the defenseman's third goal of the tournament.

Kristo won a puck battle in the Finland zone to set up D'Amigo to make it 3-0, but then Finland scored when Eero Elo whacked his own rebound past Lee at 16:17 to make it 3-1.

Kreider made it 4-1 at 2:05 of the third period. Jeremy Morin dug a puck off the wall in the Finnish zone and fed a short pass to Kreider in the faceoff circle. The New York Rangers' prospect one-timed the puck past Ortio for his team-best fifth goal of the tournament.

Iiro Pakarinen made it 4-2 when he tapped in Matias Sointu's shot after it trickled between Lee's pads and lay untouched on the goal line.

D'Amigo scored an empty-net goal with 53 seconds left, and nine seconds later, Schroeder found Kristo behind the Finland defense for another goal.

That assist was his 20th all-time in WJC play and not only pushed him past Roenick for the U.S. scoring lead, but past Eric Lindros for third all-time in WJC history for assists.

Next is Sweden -- on short rest.

"They've got a little bit of everything," Blais said. "(Jacob) Markstrom in goal, good specialty teams, they know how to win, they've got a day of rest. It'll be tougher for us to win that game tomorrow night but we'll be ready for them."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com

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