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Luukonen, Finland to meet Team USA for world juniors gold

Sabres goalie prospect Ukko-Pekko Luukonen made 16 saves as Finland rolled to a 6-1 victory against Switzerland in the World Junior Championship semifinals Friday in Vancouver.

That sets up a meeting at 8 p.m. on Saturday (NHL Network) for the gold medal against the United States, which beat Russia, 2-1, in the other semifinal.

The U.S. and Finland will meet for the first time for gold in the world juniors.

The Finns, who upended host Canada in the quarterfinals, were booed throughout the game.

Jesse Ylonen scored 40 seconds in the game and Aarne Talvitie had two goals in the first period as the Finns scored four times on their first eight shots and built a 4-0 lead.

Team USA, which won the bronze at last year’s tournament in Buffalo, remained unbeaten in this year’s event and got goals from Oliver Wahlstrom and Alexander Chmelevski. Cayden Primeau stopped 35 of 36 shots.

The Sabres are represented on the American roster by defenseman Mattias Samuelsson, the Western Michigan freshman who was selected in the second round last June.

Oskari Laaksonen, a defenseman selected by the Sabres in the third round in 2017, also plays for Finland.  Luukonen, a second-round pick in 2017, plays for Sudbury in the Ontario Hockey League.


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