Team USA and NY Islanders prospects Quinn Finley and Danny Nelson are headed to the semi-finals of the 2024 World Junior Championship.
Claiming the top spot in Group B, Team USA played their quarterfinal matchup today vs. Latvia, winning convincingly by a score of 7-2. The Islanders' second-round pick this summer, Nelson scored his first of the tournament in the first period. Nelson deflected home a goal off a shot from New Jersey Devils draft pick Seamus Casey, extending the American's lead to 3-1 before the US added four more in the ensuing two periods.
Nelson and Finley have been mainstays on the USA's fourth line, joined today by St. Louis Blues first-round pick in 2022, Jimmy Snuggerud. Snuggerud has been a staple on the American's top line throughout the tournament - but after missing the final group play game against Slovakia, Head Coach David Carle elected to move one of his leading scorers down the lineup.
Through five games, neither Finley nor Nelson's numbers jump off the leaderboards, as they've been tasked with playing somewhat of a checking role while managing to each add a goal and an assist so far. Finley has averaged 12:55 of ice time and Nelson 12:39.
Among the four teams remaining, the Americans are the favorites to take home the gold medal on Friday afternoon. Canada was eliminated today and will go home without a medal after winning gold in the previous two editions of the WJC. Team USA faces off against Finland at 1:30 pm EST on Thursday, while second favorites and hosts Sweden take on a gritty Czechia team.
The Finns started their tournament off slow, losing to Canada and Germany in their first two contests, but have come on strong when it matters most. The high-flying Americans will be big favorites, and Nelson and Finley will look to play their part in advancing to the Gold Medal round.