BRATISLAVA – In a rematch of the 2012 Final, powerhouses Team USA and Team Finland would square off for who would become kings of the Roller Hockey World. While it wasn’t a surprise that these two teams would be here at the end, their journeys to the Gold Medal Game were not any easy, as both teams were in some tough battles in their Semi-Final match ups.
The United States came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Czech Republic, to win it 5-4. Jack Combs was the catalyst in that one, scoring two goals including the game-winner. On the other hand, Finland defeated their arch-rival Sweden 6-5 in overtime, where Sami Markkanen would take a slap-shot from the top of the circle to lead Finland into their second consecutive Gold Medal Game. Just like those semi-final games, the Gold Medal Game was just as exciting.
In what was a very tight opening frame, it were the Americans who would get on the board first, as Former Neumann Knight star Shane Fox would wire a shot past the Finnish net-minder to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead. That would be all for the first period, as the second would be all Team USA.
The Americans would score three unanswered in the second period to give themselves a 4-0 advantage, with goals from New York native and Mission Black Ice star PJ DiMartino, but as well as goals California’s Travis Noe and Matt White. With the 4-goal deficit, the Fins would pull goaltender Samu Airasvaara, hoping to spark their team. They would get on the board to make it a 4-1 game, to end the first half.
The goalie change would prove to spark the Fins, as they would easily take control of the third period. Following a disallowed goal, it did not seem to both them, as they would later in the period score on the power-play to cut the lead down to 2.
The final period would continue it’s play of fast-paced, back and forth actions, as they two nations would constantly trade quality scoring chances. Juha Taponen, who came in relief for Airasvaara was a wall for the Fins making key stops in order to keep his team in the game, including a break-away stops on Billy Pascalli and Jack Combs to keep it at a 4-2 hockey game.
Unfortunately for Tamponen, his teammates who unable to complete the comeback as Troy Redmann turned it on, and led Team USA to their 7th IIHF Inline Hockey Gold Medal.
Taponen would earn Player of the Game for Finland, while Shane Fox would take it home for the Americans. Awards for the tournament were also awarded, as Redmann would win Goaltender of the Tournament, Finland’s Petri Partanen would earn Defensemen of the tournament, while Matt White would be the tournament’s Top Forward.