MONTREAL – Jack Eichel and Chase DeLeo scored in a shootout to help the United States beat defending champion Finland 2-1 on Friday in their round-robin opener in the World Junior Championship.
Eichel is a freshman at Boston University, and DeLeo plays for Portland in the Western Hockey League.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” said Eichel, a top prospect in the 2015 NHL draft. “They’re the defending champs, and you’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They played a very close-checking game. It’s really good for us to get the win. Hopefully, we can build off that and get some confidence.”
Boston College’s Thatcher Demko made 28 saves, and stopped Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Kasperi Kapanen in the shootout to secure the victory.
“I thought we got better as the game went on,” Demko said. “It’s a good starting point, and something we can work forward from.”
Mikko Rantanen opened the scoring for Finland, and Boston College’s Alex Tuch tied it on a first-period power play.
Ville Husso stopped 36 shots for Finland.
In the other Group A game Friday night at Bell Centre, Canada played Slovakia.
The United States will face Germany on Sunday, Slovakia on Monday and finish group play Wednesday night against Canada. The top two teams in each group will advance to the quarterfinals.
In Group B in Toronto, Russia rallied to beat Denmark 3-2 in a shootout, and Sweden topped the Czech Republic 5-2.
Sergei Tolchinski and Nikolai Goldobin scored for Russia in the shootout. Nikolaj Ehlers and Oliver Bjorkstrand staked Denmark to a 2-0 lead in the first period. Goldobin scored in the second, and Maxim Mamin tied it in the third.
“I think we were a little bit surprised by how well they played,” Tolchinski said. “They have a really good team. They were proud and skilled. We didn’t expect that kind of hockey.”
Adrian Kempe scored twice, and Jens Looke, Jacob de la Rose and Maple Leafs first-round pick William Nylander added goals for Sweden. Jakub Vrana scored twice for the Czech Republic.