The United States’ time at the world championships ended suddenly Thursday. Jack Eichel’s tournament stopped a bit earlier.
The Sabres center was in the penalty box when the clock struck zero for Finland’s 2-0 upset of the Americans in the quarterfinals. The United States entered the elimination round as the hottest team in the tournament, but it could generate nothing against the Finns in Cologne, Germany.
“It goes without saying we’re bitterly disappointed,” U.S. coach Jeff Blashill said. “We believed that this team had the ability to win the tournament. They are a great group who cared, were selfless and played some great hockey.
"Unfortunately, Finland was better than we were.”
The shutout meant Eichel finished the world championships with no goals and five assists in eight games. Eichel led the Americans with 34 shots, including four against Finland, but he failed to find the net.
He took a high-sticking penalty with 1:52 to play and watched the finish from the box.
No one on the U.S. squad could score against Finland goaltender Harri Sateri. He made 26 saves for the shutout. Finland beat U.S. goalie Jimmy Howard twice on 20 shots, including a two-on-one with 13:11 left that made it 2-0.
"They did a good job defensively, clogging us up in the zone and made it tough on us all night long," Howard said.
The Finns will play either Sweden or Switzerland in the semifinals. The United States will head home.
After dropping their first game against Germany, the Americans rattled off six straight victories to claim first place in Group A. Finland was 4-3 and finished fourth in Group B, but it managed the upset.
The only Sabres player remaining in the tournament is forward Ryan O’Reilly. He and Canada will face host Germany in the quarterfinals later Thursday.