The United States derailed the previously undefeated Canadian juggernaut, beating the host squad 2-0 Tuesday to capture the gold medal at the world junior hockey championship.
The U.S. players poured over the bench as the buzzer sounded, tossing sticks and gloves aloft in an empty Rogers Place. The tournament was played with no fans in the stands to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
U.S. winger Trevor Zegras led the way, scoring a goal and adding an assist. American goaltender Spencer Knight, a 2019 top pick by the Florida Panthers, turned aside 34 shots for his third shutout of the tournament, tying the record set by Canada’s Devon Levi this year and by Justin Pogge in 2006.
It’s the first gold medal for the Americans since they won it all in 2017.
Canada took home the silver medal. Finland defeated Russia 4-1 earlier Tuesday to win bronze.
Zegras, a 2019 first-round draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks, was the top scorer of the tournament (seven goals, 11 assists).
Alex Turcotte also scored the U.S.
Knight was spectacular at times, particularly when the Canadians stormed and buzzed the net late in the second period and came in waves in the third.
Knight stoned Connor McMichael on a breakaway with three minutes left in the game, prompting the Canadian to slam his stick on the glass in frustration.
Levi made 19 saves in the loss.
Canadian forward Dylan Cozens, tied with Zegras in tournament scoring heading into the final, finished as Canada’s top point-getter, with eight goals and eight assists.
The U.S. lost its tournament opener 5-3 to Russia before running the table, outscoring opponents 36-10.
Canada had been absolutely dominant, going undefeated and outscoring opponents 41-4 heading into the gold-medal match.
The players battled to a continuous hum of canned crowd noise throughout the game, including ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ on hard shots and great saves.
Rogers Place, home to the Edmonton Oilers, was otherwise empty except for hockey officials, media, rink and support staff.
The game featured two Florida draft picks in net: Levi, a seventh-round pick in 2020 and Knight.
The U.S. forechecked ferociously in the first period, outshot Canada 13-9 and opened the scoring at 13:25 when Turcotte deflected a Drew Helleson point shot up and over Levi’s glove.
To that point, Canada had never trailed in the tournament.
The U.S. took a 2-0 lead just 32 seconds into the second period. Arther Kaliyev fired the puck past the net. Zegras grabbed the puck off the end boards and tucked it in on the short side while Levi, expecting the puck to come out the other side, was moving in the opposite direction to cover the far post.
The Americans held off Canada in the third to preserve the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championship victory.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 5, 2021