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TEAM USA FINISHES FIFTH

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
MOSCOW, Russia – The U.S. Men’s National Team dropped a 5-4 decision to Finland in a shootout tonight in the quarterfinal round of the 2007 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship. The United States rallied from a one-goal deficit four different times in regulation, but was held scoreless in overtime and on five attempts during the shootout. The fifth-place finish was Team USA’s best at the World Championship since winning the bronze medal in 2004.

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“I felt tonight was the best game our team has played in the tournament,” said Mike Sullivan, head coach of Team USA. “We played with a lot of heart, but losing in a shootout is a tough way to end a game. I’m proud of our effort throughout the tournament and thought we represented our country extremely well.”

Tuomo Ruutu put Finland up 1-0 with the lone goal of the first period on a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot that beat U.S. netminder John Grahame (Denver, Colo./Carolina Hurricanes/Lake Superior State University) to the far side at 17:03.

A total of six goals were scored during the second period, with each team accounting for three tallies. Toby Petersen (Minneapolis, Minn./Edmonton Oilers/Colorado College) evened the game on a shorthanded tally off a feed from Chad LaRose (Fraser, Mich./Carolina Hurricanes) just 48 seconds into the frame, followed by a Pekka Saravo 2-on-1 goal for Finland at 4:33.

Tyler Arnason (Oklahoma City, Okla./Colorado Avalanche/St. Cloud State University) made it a 2-2 contest at 7:05, while Finland’s Jari Viuhkola beat Grahame on a rebound goal at 10:27. Team USA again tied the game on Lee Stempniak’s (West Seneca, N.Y./St. Louis Blues/Dartmouth College) team-leading sixth goal of the tournament at 14:08 off a feed from David Backes (Minneapolis, Minn./St. Louis Blues/Minnesota State University Mankato). Finland’s Tomi Kallio rounded out the second-period scoring with a power-play goal at 15:32 to give his team a 4-3 lead.

Andrew Hutchinson (Evanston, Ill./Carolina Hurricanes/Michigan State University) notched the only goal of the third period at the 14:20 mark when he one-timed a cross-ice feed from Arnason over Finnish netminder Kari Lehtonen’s right shoulder with Team USA on the power play to send the game to overtime.

Both Grahame and Lehtonen kept the opposition off the scoreboard during the 10-minute overtime session and the first two rounds of the shootout. The first round of the game-winning shots procedure featured three shooters from each team. From there, each round consisted of one shooter from each side. In the third round, Lehtonen made a pad save on Phil Kessel’s (Madison, Wis./Boston Bruins/University of Minnesota) attempt, while Jere Lehtinen put a shot over Grahame’s left shoulder to earn the victory for Finland.

NOTES: Toby Petersen was named Team USA’s Best Player of the Game ... Team USA leads the tournament with three shorthanded tallies ... Lee Stempniak was the lone U.S. player to have at least one point in each of Team USA’s seven games in the IIHF World Championship. With 6-4--10, he finished as Team USA’s leading point-getter ... Grahame started each of Team USA’s seven games and posted four victories with a .892 save percentage and a 2.79 goals-against average ... All 56 games of the 2007 IIHF World Championship are available live and on-demand at WCSN.com ... Barry Smith, head coach and director of hockey operations with SKA St. Petersburg of the Russian Elite League, served as associate head coach of Team USA, while David Quinn, associate head coach for the Boston University men’s ice hockey team, was the assistant coach.

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