LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- More than eight months after his team finished a disappointing seventh at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship, Finland center Teuvo Teravainen still is at a loss to explain what happened.
"I don't know. Different team now, different guys here," he said. "There were many small things that got thrown into that tournament. We just played bad. I know we had a good team and had a good chance to win. It's a [short] tournament and sometimes it goes bad."
Finland's first step toward making things go right for the 2014 WJC started Sunday with a 6-5 overtime win against a split-squad USA Blue team on the first day of games at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp.
And Teravainen, who the Chicago Blackhawks selected with the 18th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, was right in the middle of most of those good things, scoring one goal and setting up three others, including Ville Pokka's overtime goal.
His other two assists went to linemate Artturi Lehkonen, who had a hat trick, including the game-tying goal with 11 seconds left to force overtime.
In the extra session, USA Blue defenseman Gage Ausmus was whistled for closing his hand on the puck 25 seconds into the extra session, and on the ensuing power play, Teravainen and Olli Maatta worked the puck around the perimeter, eventually getting it to Pokka. The New York Islanders prospect fired a shot from the left faceoff dot past USA Blue goalie Thatcher Demko for the winning goal 41 seconds into overtime.
While games in August can't replicate the crucible of the World Junior Championship, it's a good first step toward redemption for the Finns.
"I think we played good, but we can play much better," Teravainen said. "We played good offense, but we need to play better defense also."
Teravainen led by example in both regards. He had the four-point game offensively, and was also was used on the penalty kill by coach Karri Kivi.
"First time," Teravainen said with a laugh. "That's not my first thing [but] I do whatever coach says."
That's part of the maturation process for the 18-year-old, one of six players from the 2013 WJC team in camp this week. As the team's most offensively skilled player, however, Teravainen said he expects to have a big role in the team's leadership.
"I tried to take a big role and lead this team," he said. "I think I have to do that. … I think more on the ice, try to show how to play, try to lead on the ice. Maybe not so loud in the locker room."
If he plays more games like he did Sunday, he won't need to say much in the locker room.
Connor Carrick opened the scoring for USA Blue 5:16 into the game, but then Teravainen finished a nice passing play with Lehkonen and Maatta by tapping in a loose puck in front at 7:13 to tie the game 1-1.
Ville Leskinen's breakaway goal gave Finland a 2-1 lead 10:59 into the second, and then with USA Blue's Nick Ebert in the penalty box for holding, Teravainen set up Lehkonen for a power-play goal at 15:36 to make it 3-1.
Daniel O'Regan, a San Jose Sharks draft pick, got USA Blue back in the game when he scored at 15:36 of the second. The period ended with Finland's Mikko Lehtonen being whistled for cross-checking after the buzzer sounded ending the second period. On the ensuing power play, O'Regan needed just 19 seconds to score to tie the game.
O'Regan had a glorious chance for a hat trick midway through the period when he found himself open just in front of the net for a pass from Riley Barber, but he was in too close and slammed the puck into the pads of Finland goalie Juuse Saros.
The missed opportunity would loom large, as Lehkonen was credited with a goal off a Teravainen shot at 9:39 to give Finland a 4-3 lead. USA Blue recovered, turning the one-goal deficit into a one-goal advantage when Hudson Fasching scored from below the goal line at 10:04, followed 29 seconds later by a goal from defenseman Anthony DeAngelo, considered one of the top prospects for the 2014 NHL Draft.
That lead held until Lehkonen's third of the game with 11 seconds left in regulation, and then Pokka's winner.
"I like lots of goals," Teravainen said, "but not so many in on our side."
Teravainen is no stranger to offense -- he had 31 points in 44 games last season with Jokerit in SM-liiga, Finland's top professional league, and also had five goals and six assists in five games at the 2013 WJC. He said he'll likely spend one more season in Finland before making the jump to North America.
"I think I need one more season in Finland, maybe then go play there [Chicago]," he said. "We'll see what happens."
What happens next is a game Monday for Finland against USA White.
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