The USA junior hockey team, shocked Canada at the 2021 IIHF World Championship to win the gold medal. The final result was 2-0 for Nate Leaman’s crew, who brought the fifth title to the US in this competition.
“This was a group that cared about each other. They had good character. The team came together, and they cared more about a team than anything individually,” said Leaman following the match, adding that he wouldn’t change his opinion even if Canada won the gold.
But the Habs had no chances against the unreal Spencer Knight, who had 34 saves, posting his third shutout at this championship. After stopping the Swedish and the Czech Republic team, the Florida Panthers’ prospect froze the most potent team in the tournament, which scored 44 goals on its way to the finals.
He put an iron curtain in front of his goal over the last 20 minutes when Canada went all in, pressuring the US team, who was on his knees on several occasions. Knight stopped 15 shots in that final frame, while his colleague across the ice, Devon Levi, had to react just once.
Canada’s top scorer Dylan Cozens admitted that he and his teammates had no answer on how to beat the American goalie.
“We had our looks, but Knight played great. We didn’t get the bounces.”
Two scorers for the American team were Alex Turcotte and Trevor Zegras. The first goal came in the 13th minute of the first period, with Turcotte beating Levi and putting Canada in deficit for the first time since the entire competition started. The US side was better in the opening sequence, having 13 shots towards the Habs’ net, smoothly controlling the rhythm.
Another shock hit the Canadians just 32 seconds following the start of the second period. Zegras scored for his 18th point in Edmonton, securing not only the title for his country, but the MVP award as well.
“I don’t think they had a team do that to them the whole tournament. We wanted to beat’em up down low, move it up high and get to the net, and we did a good job of that,” he said following the game.
Zegras has 27 points in two junior world championships, and 18 at this one were the most any player recorded. Anaheim Ducks are no doubt delighted with the way their draft pick played, and Dallas Eikins will get an excellent addition to his squad.
After his score, the American team decided to pull back and wait for a chance to strike from a breakaway. As time went by, Canada began pushing harder and harder, with the US players not receiving a single opportunity to endanger Levi’s net.
That is when Knight entered the zone. Even though he didn’t have too much help from his defenders, the teenager carried the entire team on his back.
We need to mention that Canada entered this matchup as -250 favorites according to some bookies, after demolishing Russia 5-0 in the semifinals. The Russians were the only team that defeated the USA in Edmonton, 5-3, in the tournament’s first game. It is what makes this success even greater.
Canada didn’t win its 19th gold medal at the junior world championships, but they’ll have a chance to correct this mistake already next year. The 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship will again take place in Edmonton, with the second host city being Red Deer in Alberta.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.