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Eichel's late goal propels U.S. to win at U-18 Worlds

by Staff

Jack Eichel, a top prospect for the 2015 NHL Draft, scored with 1:04 left in the third period as the United States beat Finland 4-3 on Tuesday in preliminary-round play at the 2014 IIHF World Under-18 Championship at Lappeenranta Arena in Lappeenranta, Finland.

The game was tied late when Sonny Milano, a forward ranked No. 16 among North American skaters for the 2014 draft, sent a pass to Eichel that he played from between his skates onto his stick. He fired a quick shot that beat Finland goalie Kaapo Kahkonen.

"We had a scouting report on [Kahkonen] before the game and we wanted to get a lot of shots on him and make him work," Eichel told the IIHF website. "End of the shift I'm kind of low and Milano makes a good pass to me. Didn't really have a lot of options, but I was in a spot where we said was a good place to shoot."

Alex Nedeljkovic, ranked No. 4 among North American goalies, made 17 saves. Noah Hanifan, a defenseman also rated as a top prospect for next year's draft, had a goal and an assist. Anders Bjork, No. 101 among North American skaters, had a goal as did Kyle Connor.

Miro Keskitalo, who plays for Jokerit's team in Finland's junior league, had a goal and an assist for Finland. He's No. 81 in Central Scouting's final ranking of European skaters.

The victory gave the United States first place in Group B and a quarterfinal-round game against Slovakia on Thursday.

"I thought everyone was playing hard from start to finish," U.S. captain Louis Belpedio told the IIHF website. "We scored some good goals [Tuesday], including a big one at the end and come out with the win. They work hard and we were able to match that."

Finland finished third in the group and will play Sweden on Thursday in the quarterfinals.

Russia 3, Canada 2 (SO) -- Vladislav Kamenev scored the tying goal with 35 seconds left and Kirill Pilipenko scored the only goal of the shootout to give Russia the win on the final day of the preliminary round in a game played at Imatra Arena in Imatra, Finland.

Kamenev, who plays for Magnitogorsk in Russia's junior league, is No. 13 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of European skaters for the 2014 NHL Draft.

With Canada captain Roland McKeown in the penalty box, Pilipenko fired a shot from the point that was stopped by Canada goalie Mason McDonald, but the rebound went to Kamenev, who scored.

In the shootout, Russia goalie Maxim Tretiak stopped Canada shooters Connor Bleackley, Jared McCann and Jake Virtanen.

Pilipenko scored on Russia's first chance in the shootout.

"They are a really good team and we had to play our best to get the win," said Ivan Nikolishin, who had a goal for Russia. "It's a game that you may only get to play once in your life, a rivalry that goes back years between two of the best national team programs in the world, so it's pretty nice to get a win against them."

Canada got goals from Mathew Barzal and Travis Konecny, two prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft. McDonald, who plays for the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, had 28 saves. He is No. 2 among North American goalies in Central Scouting's final rankings.

Despite the loss, Canada still finished first in Group A and will play Switzerland on Thursday in the quarterfinals.

Russia finished third in Group A and will play the Czech Republic on Thursday.

Czech Republic 4, Switzerland 2 -- Pavel Zacha, a 2015 draft prospect, had two goals as the Czechs won at Lappeenranta Arena to finish second in Group B.

Jakub Vrana, Central Scouting's No. 4-ranked European skater, had a goal, and David Pastrnak, No. 5 on the list, had three assists.

Kevin Fiala, No. 3 on Central Scouting's ranking of European skaters, had one goal and one assist.

The Czechs will play Russia on Thursday in the quarterfinals, while Switzerland, which finished fourth in the group, will play Canada on Thursday.

Sweden 9, Germany 3 -- Sweden scored the first five goals of the game en route to the victory at Imatra Arena.

Defenseman Sebastian Aho, who plays for Skelleftea in the Swedish Hockey League, had two goals. He is No. 9 among European skaters in Central Scouting's final ranking.

William Nylander, No. 2 among European skaters, had a goal and three assists, as did Axel Holmstrom.

Sweden, which finished second in Group A, will play Finland in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Germany will play Denmark in the best-of-3 relegation series starting Friday.

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