USA beats Finland 5-2 for bronze

Aug 5, 2023 | Derek OBrien

The USA is on the medal podium of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup for the first time since 2016 following a 5-2 win over Finland in the bronze-medal game in Trenčín. The Americans jumped out to a 3-0 lead, then saw the Finns come back to within one before pulling away. The team´s best offensive players, Trevor Connelly and Will Zellers, had two points each.

Game #13  •  Sa 5.8.2023  •  17:00
( 3:0, 1:2, 1:0)
USA: Heil (Bernstein) – Pitner, Bales, Kleber, Felicio, McLaughlin, Keefe, Henricks – Frank, Swanson, Connelly – Lee, Park, Zellers – Butella, Stefanek, Monteiro – Spellacy, Young, McNelis.
Finland: Saarinen (Rimpinen) – Nieminen, Amhamdi, Välilä, Marila, Jokinen, Vikla, Jalasti, Muhonen – Saarelainen, Pulkkanen, Vesterinen – Hemming, Suoniemi, Sinivuori – Miettinen, Ruohonen, Heinänen – Paqvalin, Väärälä, Teshome.
Goals and assists: 1. Swanson (Pitner), 2. Felicio (Connelly, Zellers), 10. Connelly, 39. Stefanek (Monteiro), 49. Park (Zellers, Bales) – 25. Ruohonen, 28. Vesterinen (Suoniemi, Hemming)

Penalties: 0:0. PP goals: 0:0. SH goals: 0:0.




The USA took quick control of the game, scoring twice in the first two minutes. The first goal came just 13 seconds in, as Kim Saarinen stopped the initial shot from Tory Pitner but the rebound went off to the side for Mac Swanson to tap in. The Americans went up 2-0 on the power play at 1:57 when William Felicio’s wrister from the point beat a couple of challenging Finnish penalty-killers and Saarinen.

At that point, Finnish head coach Marko Kauppinen called a timeout, but the USA went up 3-0 on a brilliant solo rush by Trevor Connelly midway through the opening period. Connelly jumped on the puck in his own zone and went end-to-end, beating a Finnish defender and then Saarinen through the legs.

Already up three goals, two Finnish penalties and a brief 5-on-3 gave the Americans a chance to extend their lead early in the second, but instead it was the Finns who struck shorthanded. Heikki Ruohonen won a footrace for the puck in the US zone and backhanded it under the pad of Caleb Heil to get his team on the board. Less than three minutes later, it was a one-goal game when Roope Vesterinen buried a rebound after a long shot from Tuomas Suoniemi.

Momentum was now on the side of the Finns and they could have tied it on a couple of power plays. However, they gave up brilliant shorthanded chances. First Saarinen was forced to make couple of great saves off of Connelly, and then a failure to keep the puck in the attacking zone late in the period gave the USA a 2-on-1. JJ Monteiro fed Chase Stefanek, whose backhander through Saarinen’s legs made it 4-2 USA after two periods.

With 11:49 to go, the USA struck on the power play for the second time in the game when Will Zellers’ point shot was deflected in front by Aidan Park. That effectively put the game away, with a Suonemi cross-checking penalty with 2:20 to go killing any comeback attempt the Finns might have had left.


Luke Strand (head coach, Team USA): “I’m just happy for the guys. They put in a lot of work, the players did the job, the staff worked hard and it’s fun to win. We were coming off a disheartening loss and to come up with a game like that, it says a lot about the guys when you’re down from the night before. We’ve been in that spot a couple of times and we didn’t respond the way we wanted to, but tonight we made sure we did. We get a chance to have a quick celebration here and then the guys go to their home destinations, but we’re connected forever with a bronze medal.”

Marko Kauppinen (head coach, Team Finland): “We started the tournament pretty well, but then I don’t know what happened. The team wasn’t themselves. We had a really tough game yesterday, and then 13 seconds they score the first goal, it’s hard mentally. We just tried to do our best and get the boys back in the game. In the second period, we got a couple of goals and we were pretty close to tying it, but we didn’t deserve the win today. The USA was better.”

In brief

Pre-tournament games

21.6. - The final pre-tournament games will be played on Saturday, 29th July. The Czech Republic will host Canada in Břeclav at 18:30 CET, 12:30 ET. Meanwhile, Slovakia will host the USA in Trenčín at 17:00 CET. Coverage of these games will be available at

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6.2. - Do you know who won the Cup last year? Which team has won the most gold medals? HERE you can review the history.
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