LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- It wasn't the way Phil Housley was hoping this week's National Junior Evaluation Camp would end, but the U.S. coach said there were things to like even with Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to Finland.
"I really liked the effort all the way to the end of the game," Housley said. "We battled and we were able to tie it up toward the end. I was happy with that. The disappointing thing was we turned the puck over too many times and played right into Finland's hands. They're a passive team when they can't get on the forecheck; they sit back and we played right into it. It was a great, valuable learning experience in how we have to play in December (at the World Junior Championship)."
Tyler Biggs scored game-tying goals twice in the third period after Finland goalie Janne Juvonen had shut down Team USA for almost 50 minutes. Housley said he believes that shows the players have faith that if they stick with the game plan implemented by the coaching staff they'll have a chance to be successful.
"That was one of the great positive things today, that we didn't panic and we kept working through it and it eventually came and we were able to tie it up," Housley said.
Anthony Stolarz and Jon Gillies split time in goal, with Stolarz stopping all 16 shots he faced in 29 minutes. Gillies took the loss after allowing three goals on 13 shots. However, he turned aside Finland on a four-on-three power play in overtime. He stopped Miro Aaltonen's first shot later on a breakaway, but couldn't deny him on the rebound, as Aaltonen shoved the puck under Gillies at 2:11 of the extra period.
"I thought our penalty kill in the overtime did a tremendous job on the four-on-three, and at that point we got a little anxious with the puck," Housley said. "I know guys are trying to do something and make something happen, but we can't be turning the puck over at the blue line."
Despite a sour ending, Team USA went 2-1 in its final three international games, highlighted by a 10-2 rout of Sweden, the defending World Junior Championship gold medalists, on Thursday.
"I was pleased about the whole week," Housley said. "Especially after the first couple days, it seemed like we were a little sluggish. (It) seemed like our game picked up in the third game (of) the international competition. I was very pleased by their effort. I talked to them, sent out the letter in June to come prepared, and for the most part all of these guys worked hard and came prepared for this camp."
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