And on the twelfth day, the Hockey Gods gifted us with the proper ending to the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship — Canada versus the USA with a gold medal on the road.
“At the present time has been marked on all of our calendars since being right here,” mentioned Newfoundland’s Alex Newhook after his objective 59 seconds in was the eventual game-winner in opposition to Russia within the semis. “To lastly be right here and see that the work we put in is paid off to this level. It is thrilling.”
Canada has steamrolled by way of the competitors thus far: The crew’s allowed simply 4 objectives — all on the ability play — on 124 photographs by way of its first six video games. It achieved three shutouts with the final two coming within the quarterfinals (3-0 vs. Czechs) and semis (5-0 vs. Russia). Netminder Devon Levi has been on hearth (reminder: the Quebec goalie wasn’t even invited to summer time camp) with a teeny-tiny 0.53 goals-against common and an virtually excellent .975 save proportion.
Levi can be the second Canadian goalie in match historical past to file three shutouts, becoming a member of Justin Pogge who did it in 2006. However he is received different issues on his thoughts.
“I am not enjoying for a shutout file. I am enjoying for a gold medal,” mentioned Levi, after stopping all 28 photographs by Russia. “It is one thing perhaps to have a look at after the match, however the job’s not executed but.”
The crew’s offense has additionally been firing on all cylinders. Along with permitting the fewest objectives within the match, they’ve additionally scored probably the most (41), with each skater notching at the least some extent. However as head coach Andre Tourigny mentioned Tuesday afternoon, quoting Phil Jackson: “Does not imply a factor with out the ring.”
And it will not be straightforward. Whereas hockey pundits are calling this group one in all Canada’s greatest in world juniors historical past, the boys from the north now face their stiffest check of your entire match of their southern neighbors.
MORE: How Canada and the U.S. match up for gold-medal recreation
Since shedding the lid-lifter to Russia on Christmas Day 5-3, the Individuals went on a tear successful 5 straight and permitting simply 5 objectives. Netminder’s Dustin Wolf (one) and Spencer Knight posted back-to-back-to-back shutouts with Workforce USA’s shutout streak ending within the quarters in opposition to Slovakia at a World Juniors-record 218:53. Knight and Dustin Wolf additionally mixed for 245:07 of shutout time with a goalie within the internet.
The US additionally brings a potent offense that has notched 34 objectives (second-best to Canada) and a tournament-best 42.86 % effectivity on the ability play. Head coach Nate Leaman likes to roll his high three traces, led by the trio of Trevor Zegras, Arthur Kaliyev and Alex Turcotte. Zegras (six objectives, 10 assists), by the best way, is making his manner up the USA Hockey world junior file books and enters the sport tied with Canada’s Dylan Cozens (eight objectives, eight assists) — doing the identical for Hockey Canada — for the scoring title.
There’s a variety of historical past coursing by way of the storylines of this recreation.
The 2 stellar netminders, Levi and Knight, who not solely will battle it out tonight will achieve this in Hockey East this season and are each Panthers prospects. Newhook and American Matthew Boldy are roommates at Boston Faculty and Wisconsin’s Dylan Holloway and Cole Caufield can be on totally different ends of the rink. The 2021 version can be the fifth time the 2 nations will sq. off within the final recreation with the USA successful three of the final 4 — out of 4.
“I keep in mind each instances I used to be watching with my dad and we had been fairly pumped up,” Alex Turcotte mentioned Monday evening when requested whether or not he watched 2010 and 2017. “These are legendary moments on this match for USA hockey and it was superior to look at and to have the ability to play within the Canada-USA gold-medal recreation on this match. It is a dream come true and we’re gonna take advantage of it.”
A gold-medal recreation is not something new for Canada; in reality, this 12 months’s crew has six returnees — and Tourigny — aiming for back-to-back golds.
“The dying seconds counting down and seeing the clock hit the buzzer and that closing reduction of successful the gold medal,” remembered Dawson Mercer of final 12 months’s gold-medal win over Russia. “The celebration with the fellows that is the most effective half. We battled all collectively and once you get to sing your anthem on the blue line, received the gold medal round your neck, it is all recollections that can by no means go away. So I am actually wanting ahead … to make that occur once more.”
Each groups have been by way of rather a lot: bubbles and quarantines. Zoom calls, day by day COVID-19 testing, and boring meals. Each groups discuss how shut their crew has develop into. Each groups have their eyes on the prize.
All of it comes all the way down to this: Canada versus the USA. Just one will be golden ultimately. Who will it’s? We’ll discover out quickly, so pitter-patter, let’s get at’er.
Sporting Information has all of the motion as Canada and the USA go for gold.
(All instances Jap)
Canada vs. USA rating, highlights from 2021 World Juniors gold-medal recreation
9:38 p.m. — “Alright boys, that is it. Take pleasure in.” Recreation on.
9 p.m. — Trevor Zegras on NHL Community: “I truthfully do not assume this goalie’s been examined 5-on-5 but.” Then added: I truthfully do not assume they have been examined with an actual crew but and I believe we’re type of occurring all cylinders proper now.”
7:48 p.m. — The captain sends his boys a message.
7:34 p.m. — USA’s Okay’Andre Miller shouting out his squad.
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