LA Kings netminder Cal Petersen speaks about Team USA’s opener at the 2021 World Championship: a 2-1 loss to Finland. They now prepare for Canada.
Team USA didn’t get off to the start they wanted to at the 2021 World Championship in Riga, Latvia. On Saturday, the Americans fell short to Finland by a 2-1 count. LA Kings netminder Cal Petersen got the nod in this one and, despite the loss, had a good outing with 27 saves.
Petersen spoke to the media after the game, beginning with the issue of not having much time to prepare for the tournament as a team.
“I think this was a great test for us,” said the Kings netminder. “To see where we match up against, obviously, the reigning World Champs, and I think it was great for us. I think we’d rather start off with one of the best, see how we match up, see the things that we need to do better, and then continue to carry that momentum on, but it was good for us to see a glimpse of one of the favorites going in. So, I think we’re fine with that.”
After a scoreless first period, the Finns came out firing in the second, jumping out to a 2-0 lead before Team USA got on the board late in the frame. Petersen was asked about Finland’s aggressiveness in that middle frame.
“That’s a team that’s played together for a long time,” he noted. “They know each other really well and I think throughout the game, especially in these international tournaments, every team has a push, and their’s came at the start of the second, and I think ours came in the third period. It’s just a matter of who weathered the storm better.”
One of the bigger transitions for North American players at overseas tournaments is adjusting to the bigger ice surface. This was no exception for the Kings netminder but he nonetheless feels confident moving forward.
“Yeah, I mean, obviously, bigger rink, plays develop a little bit differently,” Petersen observed. “In the NHL, things are kind of quick, more direct towards the net, and here, a lot of guys have opportunities and a lot more space around the bluelines, along the walls to make plays. So, it’s a little bit of adjustment not having any exhibition games is a challenge, but I think that’s why it’s great that we played a good team to kind of get our feet wet and understand how the game is going to progress. Hopefully, we can carry the things that we did well and change the things that we can do better and bring in the next game.”
Something special about international tournaments is the camaraderie between regular teammates. Petersen, along with Matt Roy, Trevor Moore, Christian Wolanin, faced off against Kings teammate Olli Maatta on Saturday. Of course, while they were opponents on Saturday, the Kings teammates remain friendly and even traveled to Riga together for the tournament.
“When the invitations were going out and guys were wondering who was going to be on the teams, it was cool to have [Maatta] and we all traveled over together, so got to be friends for the last couple of hours where we were flying over,” Petersen said. “And then once we landed and went our separate ways, it was all Team USA. But, it’s fun to see some familiar faces but at the end of the day, you want to beat them, so hopefully as the tournament progresses, it’s the USA guys going on the plane happy home.”
The lone USA goal was scored by Arcadia, Calif., native Jason Robertson — assisted by the aforementioned Kings defenseman Christian Wolanin — but it was too little, too late for the Americans.
Next up for Petersen and Team USA will be Team Canada on Sunday. The game begins at 1:15 pm ET (10:15 am PT).
Like the Americans, though, Canada will be looking for the first win of the tournament on Sunday. They lost their tournament opener on Friday, a shocking 2-0 defeat to host Latvia.