The USA meet Finland in the final of the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships 2018-19 takes place at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Saturday evening, with gold medals and the title up for grabs.
The USA’s only loss in reaching the final at this tournament came when they went down 5-4 in OT to Sweden in their third group game. Even then it was still a game where the USA gained plenty, in that they recovered from being 4-0 down in the third Period to take the game into overtime. It was arguably the game in which they realized their capabilities as a team.
The loss to Sweden was followed immediately with a 4-1 win against Finland in their final group game. That victory not only ensured that they finished 2nd in Group B behind the Swedes, but it gives them a definite psychological edge going into the final.
The USA beat the Czech Republic 3-1 with a solid performance in the IIHF quarter-finals, then overcame Russia 2-1 at the semi-final stage, with goals from Oliver Wahlstrom and Alexander Chmelevski.
Finland’s aforementioned 4-1 loss to the USA gave them what looked to be the tougher draw in the playoffs. It certainly couldn’t get much more difficult than their quarter-final tie against host nation and defending champions Canada, yet despite going a goal down, Finland recovered to take the game 2-1 in OT. Finland then went on to resoundly beat the Swiss 6-1 in their semi-final tie.
It’s never easy making confident predictions in a major final, particularly in a game between two fairly evenly matched teams. However, the USA know that they can beat Finland and that has to count for something, so they look like the team to back on the Money Line odds to win the game and take the gold medal at World Junior Ice Hockey Championships 2018-19.
Pick: Money Line – USA