Tuesday, January 5 | 7:30 p.m. MT | Edmonton, Alberta | Gold Medal Game
TV: TSN | Radio: TSN Radio | Stream: TSN Direct
And then there were two. The IIHF World Junior Championship trophy will
stay in North America as Canada and the United States clash for the gold
medal in a meeting of – statistically, at least – the two best teams in the
tournament from start to finish.
Canada came out firing in its semifinal against Russia, scoring less than a
minute in and taking a 3-0 lead after the first period en route to a
convincing 5-0 win. Dylan Cozens led the way offensively (again) with a
goal and two assists, while Devon Levi was rock solid (again) in the
Canadian goal, turning away each and every one of the 28 shots sent his way
to record his third shutout, tying the single-tournament record.
The Americans looked to be in control of their semifinal against Finland,
taking a 3-1 lead into the final 10 minutes, but the Finns – as they are
wont to do – clawed their way back and tied it with less than four minutes
to go. That set the stage for Arthur Kaliyev, who scored a dramatic
game-winner with just 77 seconds remaining to give the U.S. a 4-3 win and
send them into the final.
The rivals faced off in a marquee Boxing Day match-up to open the
tournament a year ago in Ostrava. The game was an instant World Juniors
classic – the U.S. scored twice in the first period before Canada replied
with three in the second to take the lead. Barrett Hayton got his second of
the game midway through the third period to make it 4-2, but the Americans
replied with two goals in four minutes to tie the game. Alexis Lafrenière
took over from there, scoring just seven seconds after the game-tying goal
to put the Canadians ahead for good before setting up Ty Dellandrea for the
empty-net insurance marker in a wild 6-4 win.
WHAT TO WATCH
Let’s start with the Canadian depth. Cozens is the team scoring leader by a
wide margin, just two points shy of Dale McCourt (1977) and Brayden Schenn
(2011) for the single-tournament Canadian record, but the boys in heritage
red have been getting contributions from up and down the line-up. Seventeen
different players have scored goals, 11 have at least two and nine and
averaging at least a point per game. And we would be remiss if we didn’t
mention the other-worldly performance of Levi, whose shutout streak is at
just under 135 minutes (the Canadian record is 151:50) and who still has
yet to allow a goal at even-strength in the tournament.
The American line of Trevor Zegras, Alex Turcotte and Arthur Kaliyev might
be the best in the tournament. Zegras sits tied with Cozens for the scoring
lead at 16 points, while Turcotte and Kaliyev have posted seven apiece. Not
surprisingly, they were the trio responsible for the late winner against
the Finns. And don’t forget about Spencer Knight; the U.S. goaltender ranks
second to Levi in goals-against average (1.98), save percentage (.922) and
DON’T I KNOW YOU?
Games between Canada and the United States are nothing new on the
international stage, so these players are more than familiar with each
other. Case in point…
2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge (6-4 U.S. win in gold medal game)
Canada (4) – Byram, Cozens, Holloway, Krebs, Suzuki
United States (9) – Boldy, Caufield, Helleson, Knight, Moynihan, Thrun,
Turcotte, York, Zegras
2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup (6-5 Canada win in overtime in semifinal)
Canada (10) – Barron, Byram, Cozens, Gauthier, Holloway, Korczak,
Krebs, Pelletier, Schneider, Suzuki
United States (5) – Colangelo, Farinacci, Kaliyev, LaCombe, Wolf
2019 IIHF U18 World Championship (5-2 U.S. win in bronze medal game)
Canada (14) – Cozens, Drysdale, Gauthier, Harley, Holloway, Korczak,
Krebs, Newhook, Pelletier, Schneider, Spence, Suzuki, Tomasino, Zary
United States (11) – Beniers, Boldy, Brink, Caufield, Helleson, Knight,
Moynihan, Thrun, Turcotte, York, Zegras
2020 IIHF World Junior Championship (6-4 Canada win in preliminary round)
Canada (6) – Byfield, Byram, Cozens, Drysdale, McMichael, Mercer
United States (8) – Brink, Caufield, Kaliyev, Knight, Turcotte, Wolf,
THE FUTURE IS NOW
Prospects, prospects and more prospects. This game will be jam-packed with
future NHLers. In total, 21 NHL teams are represented among the 47 drafted
players, led by the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings with five apiece.
The Canadians will ice a roster that includes a record-setting 19
first-round draft picks, including all 13 forwards. Quinton Byfield, who
went No. 2 to the Kings in October, is the highest-drafted Canadian,
followed closely by Bowen Byram (fourth overall, Colorado, 2019).
The Americans have six first-rounders from the 2019 NHL Draft and two from
2020, including a pair of players who went at No. 5 – Alex Turcotte (Los
Angeles, 2019) and Jake Sanderson (Ottawa, 2020).
A LOOK BACK
No two teams have faced each other more at the World Juniors than Canada
and the United States, who will meet for the 48th time. It wasn’t much of a
rivalry in the early years, with the Canadians winning 18 of the first 22
between 1978 and 1997, but the Americans have victories in five of the last
eight dating back to 2013.
This will be the fifth time the gold medal game will be an all-North
American affair; Canada won the first in 1997, blanking the U.S. 2-0, but
the Americans have taken the last three, all of them thrillers; the U.S.
erased a two-goal deficit in the third period to win its first-ever WJC
gold in 2004, it got an overtime winner from John Carlson to end Canada’s
run of five-consecutive titles in 2010, and it prevailed in a shootout in
2017 in a back-and-forth classic in Montreal.
All-time record: Canada leads 33-11-3 (3-3 in OT/SO)
Canada goals: 194
United States goals: 132