Greetings from HSBC Arena, which is certainly undergoing a workout today. The 8 p.m. matchup between USA and Finland will be the third game in the arena. The building just emptied a short time ago following Canada's 6-3 victory over Russia, and fans are already coming back in for the final outing. They're sharing the rows with ushers picking up beer cans and workers sweeping up popcorn boxes.
The Canada game was a red-clad event, with fans from The True North filling the building in their team jerseys. It appears this final game will be a flag-waving affair. Nearly all the fans walking in have American flags, so they were likely handed them upon entering.
The Americans are eager to start their title defense against the Finns and will do so with Jack Campbell in net.
"It’s the first game. You’re going to have a lot of mayhem, a lot of nerves out there," forward Jerry D'Amigo said. "You’ve got to stay composed and be a team. The winners in this tournament are the teams that get better each game. Obviously, you’re going to see a lot of mistakes out there, but hopefully we can manage them well."
8:03 p.m.: It's going to be a late start apparently, as the teams have yet to take the ice with all the pretournament festivities and the color guard still marching.
8:07 p.m.: Captain John Ramage and defense partner Jon Merrill get the start for USA, with Jeremy Morin, Ryan Bourque and Nick Bjugstad up front.
8:09 p.m.: Game on in a building that's more than half empty.
8:13 p.m.: Most of the fans in the arena are wearing the red sweaters of Team Canada, and several just started a "Let's go, Finland" chant. It quickly was replaced by "USA, USA," There is no score and only two Finn shots through four minutes.
8:18 p.m.: First commercial hits with 12:32 remaining. Finns have three shots, the U.S. team has one. It's amazing how packed and energized this building was four hours ago for Canada-Russia and how quiet and empty it is now.
8:22 p.m.: The U.S. kills a penalty to Ramage taken with 12:23 left and nearly takes a 1-0 lead while short-handed. Goalie Joni Ortio makes a right two save on Jason Zucker at the end of a two-on-one with D'Amigo.
8:38 p.m.: The U.S. team, thanks to two Finland penalties, finally establishes itself and hits the first intermission with a 1-0 lead. Blue-liners Justin Faulk and Merrill pass back and forth along the point on the power play, with Faulk's one-timer soaring short side past Ortio with 1:06 to go. Finland holds a 9-7 shot edge.
8:56 p.m.: The teams are back. Game on.
8:57 p.m.: Third straight penalty by Finns give U.S. a power play just 44 seconds in.
9 p.m.: Two shots, no goals for Americans on the power play. They hold their 1-0 lead with 17:04 to go.
9:05 p.m.: Finland hits the commercial in its 1-0 hole after Erik Haula fires wide with an open net in front of him with 13 minutes to go.
9:13 p.m.: Campbell passes his first test with 7:15 left, getting his pad on Haula's point-blank blast. It's still 1-0 with Finns holding an 18-14 shot edge.
9:16 p.m.: Canadian Finn fans start "Camp-bell" mock after Toni Rajala steals puck from goalie and then from D'Amigo. Rajala had two teammates alone in front and fed Joonas Nattinen for the one-timer from the top of the slot. It's 1-1 with 6:10 to play.
9:18 p.m.: Americans come back to regain their lead on a goal by Zucker with 4:52 to go. A Finn defenseman blew a wheel trying to skate up the boards in his own end, with Zucker picking up the puck and firing a laser off the post and in. It's 2-1.
9:24 p.m.: The Americans head to the dressing room with a 2-1 lead. The Finns have a 23-17 shot edge. Again, I can't believe how empty this building is.
9:43 p.m.: And they're back ...
9:48 p.m.: Joel Armia misses a close-range backhand for the Finns with 15:25 left, keeping the Americans in front, 2-1. Ortio keeps his team in front, forcing Kyle Palmieri wide on a breakaway with 14:53 to go. The U.S. then goes back on the power play after a high-stick during the break.
9:51 p.m.: Americans get an apparent goal by Morin waved off with 13:48 left when Bjugstad was ruled to be in the crease.
9:58 p.m. Ortio hasn't been as busy as Campbell, but he's needed to make tougher saves. He stops a tip by D'Amigo with 8:45 left to keep it 2-1.
10:02 p.m.: Ortio does it again, getting his glove on Charlie Coyle's shot from the top of the crease with 7:16 left.
10:03 p.m.: The Finns tie the game with 7:01 left, getting a goal by Iiro Pakarinen. The U.S. blocked a shot by Haula, who continued following the rush and got another shot that Campbell stopped. The rebound bounced a driving Pakarinen.
10:12 p.m.: We're off to overtime with the score 2-2. Finns have a 34-29 shot edge.
10:17 p.m.: One minute down during the four-on-four action.
10:20 p.m.: Bjugstad scores the winner with 1:52 left to give the United States a 3-2 victory.