Sharks prospect Sasha Chmelevski scored a goal and an assist in the third period, but the United States fell short of a gold medal-winning comeback against Finland at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship on Saturday. Finnish forward Kaapo Kakko scored the game-winning goal with 1:32 remaining in the third period.
Chmelevski was named the Americans' player of the game. In addition to his two points, he led the game with six shots on goal.
The Americans trailed by two goals with just 14 minutes left in the third, after Otto Latvala doubled Finland's lead. 61 seconds later, Chmelevski kick-started the Americans' comeback.
Chmelevski dropped a pass to linemate Jack Hughes -- the prospective No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft -- but Hughes' shot was blocked. Chmelevski found the puck at the bottom of the left face-off circle moments later, and fired a shot past sprawling goaltender Ukko-Pekko Luukkonen.
Sasha Chmelevski (Sharks) gets one back for the United States pic.twitter.com/qkyoOoZjJL— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 6, 2019
1:46 later, Chmelevski set up the game-tying goal. The Huntington Beach native grabbed a loose puck, and whipped a cross-ice, back-hand pass to former Sharks prospect Josh Norris, who one-timed past Luukonen to even the score.
Finland and the United States appeared headed for overtime, until Kakko broke the Americans' hearts.
The United States trailed by a goal after 40 minutes, and Chmelevski himself had a few close calls.
Late in the period, the 19-year-old couldn't corrall a bouncing puck, fanned on the ensuing shot and hit the outside of the post. He was also denied a short-handed scoring chance with about a minute-and-a-half left in the opening frame.
The United States appeared to take a 1-0 lead 10 minutes in, but Oliver Wahlstrom's goal was disallowed for goaltender interference. The officials determined Chmelevski intefered with Luukonen, and the score remained knotted at zero.
After his two-point effort in the gold medal game, the Sharks prospect finished the tournament with seven points (four goals, three assists). That tied for second on the United States, and Chmelevski also played on the power play and penalty kill for the silver-medal winners.
Also, here is the final Team USA stats for the tournament. Ryan Poehling (MTL) with 8 points. Sasha Chmelevski (SJS) and Jason Robertson (DAL) with 7 to lead the U.S. Cayden Primeau (MTL) with a .937 SV% pic.twitter.com/a9ilEG47rS— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) January 6, 2019
The Sharks drafted Chmelevski in the sixth round (No. 185 overall) of the 2017 draft. He is in his final year of junior eligbility -- unless he returns as an overage player -- and has 39 points (12 goals, 27 assists) in 30 games with the Ottawa 67s this season. Last spring, Chmelevski skated in six regular-season games with the AHL's San Jose Barracuda on an amateur tryout, helping the Sharks' top affiliate clinch a spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs. He scored four points down the stretch, and added two more points in four postseason games.