Team USA Defeats Team Canada 2-0 to Capture Fifth World Junior Championship; First Gold Medal Win Since 2017

USA Hockey

While NHL training camps have been heating up, all eyes on Tuesday night, January 5, 2021 were placed firmly on the Gold Medal game of the 2021 World Junior Championships, where Team USA defeated their neighbors, Team Canada to become World Champions in the two countries’ fifth all-time meeting in the Gold Medal game.

FIRST PERIOD

Having outscored opponents 41-4 in the tournament, and having never been behind during their previous games, the Canadians found themselves in a very different position late in the period as Team USA’s Alex Turcotte (the fifth overall pick in 2019 by the Los Angeles Kings) notched the Americans’ first goal of the game on assists from Drew Helleson and Trevor Zegras. The goal marked Turcotte’s third goal of the tournament and the first time Canada had been behind in the entirety of the 2021 World Juniors.

The Americans would go shorthanded with 3:22 left to play in the opening frame as Bobby Brink was called for tripping. Despite several solid scoring chances, Canada was unable to convert on the man-advantage, with goaltender Spencer Knight making some key saves to keep the United States ahead. The two teams would head into the first intermission with the Americans ahead by one goal, and the Canadians looking forward to the second to push back. Team USA led Team Canada 13-9 in Shots on Goal heading into the first intermission.

SECOND PERIOD

The Americans would pick up the momentum where they left it less than a minute into the second frame, as forward Trevor Zegras recorded his second point of the night and seventh goal of the tournament to put Team USA ahead by two just 32 seconds in.

The Canadians would grant Team USA their first power play of the game following a hooking penalty by Jakob Pelletier. Fortunately for Team Canada, the Americans failed to convert, and managed to get a number of good opportunities themselves.

The rest of the period saw Canada pressure the United States far more than they had during the first period, however they were unable to solve Team USA’s Spencer Knight in goal. The two teams headed into the second and final intermission with the Americans leading 2-0 and ahead in shots by one, 20-19. Canada’s Jamie Drysdale led all skaters in total ice time, having played 16:59.

THIRD PERIOD
The majority of the final frame of the Gold Medal game saw both teams trade chances, but neither able to dent the opposing twine. With 3:05 left in the period, and Canada still down 2-0, Washington Capitals 2019 first-round pick took advantage of a misstep by a United States defenseman and went all alone on Knight, but was unable to cut the deficit in half. The Canadians would fail to notch a goal, and repeat as Gold Medalists.

POST-GAME

The United States’ fifth Gold Medal victory comes just three years after defeating Canada in the Gold Medal contest and ends the Canadians’ bid to become the first country to repeat as Gold Medalists since Team Canada did so in 2008-09.

Despite their loss, Canada ends the tournament having outscored opponents 41-6, and until the Gold Medal game had not trailed in any game in the tournament. The Canadians finished the contest with 34 shots on goal to the United States’ 21, and despite numerous quality chances, could not solve goaltender Spencer Knight, who was named the Americans’ Best Player of the Game.

Team USA’s Trevor Zegras was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, finishing the World Juniors with eight goals and 20 points.

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. His favorite player became former Capital Nate Schmidt after he met Schmidt in a Hershey hotel while in Hershey PA to see the Bears play, shortly after Schmidt was injured during a conditioning stint. Michael is also a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Orioles, and enjoys photography, watching WildEarth TV's SafariLive live safaris, and watching animals in his spare time. (Photo by Adam Vingan in 2014 at the Capitals Development Camp).
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