After New Jersey Devils prospect Seamus Casey and Team USA took a late lead on Thursday to advance to the gold medal game, that sent fellow prospect Lenni Hameenaho and Team Finland to compete for the bronze.
Finland met Buffalo Sabres prospect Jiri Kulich and Team Czechia in the consolation game.
It was all Finland through the first 35 minutes of the tilt between the two countries. In fact, Hameenaho scored Finland’s fourth and fifth goals in what appeared to be utter domination by the blue and white.
— Elite Prospects (@eliteprospects) January 5, 2024
However, Czechia scored a late goal in the second period, and then five unanswered goals in the third to stun Finland and claim the bronze medal. A complete collapse from the Finns left them without any hardware as their part in the tournament came to an end.
The silver lining in Devils-related news is that Hameenaho had a strong tournament. His two goals on Friday were his third and fourth of the tournament. That places him within the top 10 before the gold-medal game. The Devils’ Finnish prospect has already begun making an impact as a plus prospect in the Devils system playing at a high level in Finland’s highest professional league, Liiga. The best-on-best tournament solidified the former second-round selection’s ascension as a rising prospect in the system.
So, Hameenaho came away empty-handed. Kulich and Czechia stunned Finland and the rest is history. The good news is, Devils fans have even more reason to be excited about Hameenaho moving forward. He’s done nothing but make positive impressions since the Devils drafted him in the second round of the 2023 NHL Draft.