Canada Comes Back to Win Gold; Swedes Take Home Bronze

In a day where champions were crowned at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic, it was Canada who came up biggest and crowned some heroes of their own.

We begin with the relegation round as Germany staved off being demoted by defeating Kazakhstan 6-0 in the third and deciding game of their series. The Germans will remain in the tournament for 2021.

On to the bronze medal game where the Swedes edged their Scandinavian rivals 3-2.

Finland got on the board first when Patrik Puistola scored from Kim Nousiainen and Kristian Tanus. The goal came just 8:22 into the game.

But it was on the power play where the Swedes got back in to things. Nousiainen was called for holding at 10:51 of the first and, at 12:08, Sweden tied thigs up when Rasmus Sandin scored off helpers from Nils Lundkvist and Samuel Fagemo.

But before the first period was up, with exactly one minute to play, Matias Maccelli scored unassisted to give Finland back their lead, 2-1.

But the Swedes took control in the second when Fagemo scored at 10:34 from Nils Hoglander and Adam Ginning to tie things. Less than three minutes later, at 13:19, Linus Oberg was setup by Linus Nassen to score what would go down as the bronze medal clinching goal. It was now 3-2 Sweden and that is how it would remain.

The Finns pulled goalie Justus Annunen with just over one minute to go, at 18:53 but to no avail. The Swedes held on and won, leaving Finland out in the cold and taking home the bronze.

Swedish goalie Hugo Alnefelt made 32 saves on 34 Finnish shots while Annunen made 23 saves on 26 Swedish shots. Nikola Pasic finished with a shot on goal and an even plus/minus in 11:51 of ice time.

Now we move on to the main event, the gold medal game between Russia and Canada. The Canadians had history on their side, having won gold in this tournament in this rink (the Ostravar Arena) back in 1994.

And this one lived up to the hype.

Following a scoreless first period, where Ty Smith took a holding penalty at 15:04 and Kevin Bahl took a slashing penalty just as Smith’s penalty ended at 17:09, things began to pick up in the second period.

The Canadians’ Barrett Hayton took a holding the stick penalty 7:55 into the second putting Russia on the power play.

At 9:37, Nikita Alexandrov capitalized, scoring from Yegor Zamula and Grigori Denisenko give the Russians the 1-0 lead. Hayton – the Canadian captain – may have been in a tough spot here, but there were better things to come for him.

Almost immediately following the goal, the Russians got into some penalty trouble. At 10:39, Danil Zhuravlyov was called for slashing and Dmitri Voronkov was called for holding at the exact same time. Up two men, Canada’s Dylan Cozens tied things when he scored from Joe Veleno and Alexis Lafreniere.

But it only took Russia 4:45 to get that back. At 14:46, Denisenko scored from Alexander Romanov and Yegor Sokolov to get the Russians back the lead at 2-1.

The hole got deeper for the Canadians 8:46 into the third when Maxim Sorkin scored to make it 3-1 Russia. Ilya Kruglov had the lone assist.

At 9:20 of the third, Canada cut the Russian lead back to one, but not without some controversy. Connor McMichael scored from Calen Addison and Bowen Byram but the puck had deflected in off of a Canadian player’s skate. In the IIHF, any purposeful redirection off of a skate nullifies the goal. In the NHL, you can turn your skate blade a little to redirect it as long as it is not a distinct kicking motion.

Replay showed that the puck redirected in off of the player’s leg and there was no redirect with intent with the skate and it was deemed a good goal. It was now 3-2 Russia.

A few minutes after the McMichael goal, at 11:11, Russia’s Voronkov took a cross-checking penalty to put the Canadians back on the power play. And they wasted no time.

Ten seconds in to the man advantage, Hayton took a feed from Addison and put the puck in behind Russian goaltender Amir Miftakhov to tie the game up at three. Lafreniere had the other assist. For Hayton, this was a great moment. He had been injured and came back to score a major goal for the Canadians, tying the game at three.

Then, at 16:02, Akil Thomas scored one of the biggest goals of his life. He cut in on the Russian goalie with the Russian defenders on him and drove to the net, burying it to score what would go down as the gold medal-clinching goal. It was his first goal of the tournament and McMichael and Addison had the assists.

At 17:19, Bahl took a hooking penalty to put the Russians on the power play. Russia pulled Miftakhov for the 6-on-4 advantage, but that was negated when Pavel Dorofeyev took an interference penalty with just under 2:30 to go.

The Russians pulled Miftakhov again to make it 5-on-4. Then, with 1:45 to go, the Canadians cleared the puck and it hit TSN’s center ice camera that is out of play. The officials did not call delay of game, so the game remained at 4-on-4.

Miftakhov was pulled again, but Denisenko ended up playing the puck with his broken stick when Canada was about to get a scoring chance with the Russian net open. He was off for a penalty and that pretty much iced things for Canada.

The Canadians had secured their first World Junior gold medal on European soil since 2008.

Canadian goalie Joel Hofer made 35 saves on 38 Russian shots while Miftakhov stopped 26 of the 30 he saw. Ty Smith had two penalty minutes and was a minus-1 in 17:08 of time on ice. Bahl had four PIMs and was a minus-1 in 12:58 of ice time. For the Russians, Danil Misyul had a shot on goal and an even plus/minus in 14:58 of ice time.

So that puts a wrap on the 2020 World Junior Championship. Congratulations to Team Canada on taking home the gold and to all the players in the tournament. It was a good one. Next year, the tournament returns to North America in Red Deer and Edmonton, Alberta. Here’s looking to 2021!

Gold Medal Game Set at World Juniors

Four teams remained playing for medals in the 2020 World Junior Championship and today the gold medal round was set. It will be Russia versus Canada as both teams took vastly different paths to get there today.

We begin with the early game: Sweden against Russia. The Russians took this one in overtime, defeating the Swedes 5-4.

There were two Devils prospects in this game. For Sweden, Nikola Pasic had a shot on goal and an even plus/minus rating in 12:44 of ice time. For Russia, Danil Misyul had similar numbers: a shot on goal and a plus-1 rating in 16:35 of ice.

The game was kind of all over the place, with Rasmus Sandin giving Sweden the early 1-0 lead just 16 seconds into the game. David Gustafsson had the lone assist.

From there, Russia took control. It began at 1:47 when Alexander Holtz took a slashing minor, putting the Russians on the power play. At 3:04, Ivan Morozov connected from Vasili Podkolzin and Pavel Dorofeyev to tie it.

Things went further south for the Swedes when Nils Hoglander was assessed a check to the head penalty and a game misconduct at 4:22, Sweden would be without Hoglander, one of their best players, for the rest of the game and Russia would be on the power play for the next two minutes.

It only took about 1:18 for Alexander Khovanov to score and give the Russians the 2-1 lead. Nikita Alexandrov and Grigori Denisenko had the assists.

The Russians put Sweden even further in a hole at 12:05 of the first when Yegor Sokolov scored unassisted to give Russia the 3-1 lead.

But the Swedes would put up a fight and they began their comeback at 13:36 of the first. That is when Alexander Romanov took a cross-check penalty to put the Swedes on the power for the first time all game.

And, at 14:54, Samuel Fagemo capitalized when he scored from Nils Lundkvist and Sandin. This made it 3-2 going into the first intermission and got Sweden back into things.

It is almost cliché to say that this game was back-and-forth, but it really was.

Sandin tied things with the Swedes on the power play. An illegal check to the head reared itself again, with Khovanov getting two minutes for that plus a 10-minute misconduct. The Russians were without Khovanov for the rest of the period (the penalty came just 9:31 in) pretty much and the Swedes were on the man advantage.

Sandin found the back of the net from Fagemo and Linus Nassen to knot the game at three.

And that was how it was headed into the final frame. But Sweden would jump back in front, taking their first lead since the early first period, when Lundkvist scored 4:25 in. He got assists from Sandin (who ended the game with four points) and Nassen. It was 4-3 Sweden with about a full period to play. This goal came on the power play while Maxim Sorkin was off for tripping at 4:04.

It seemed that Russia had shot themselves in the foot, losing the lead and having to pull starting goalie Yaroslav Askarov following the Lundkvist goal. But Amir Miftakhov was now in and Russia would never look back.

About four minutes and ten seconds following the Swedish go-ahead goal, at 8:35, Sokolov scored from Khovanov to tie the game again, this time at four.

When time ran out on regulation, we were off to overtime. The history of this game would lead us to believe that it would not last very long. And that was correct.

Just 3:24 in, Morozov scored his second of the night to put the Russians in the gold medal game and end Sweden’s undefeated streak in this tournament. The Swedes will now play for bronze.

Swedish goalie Hugo Alnefelt made a total of 39 saves on 44 shots against. Russian goaltending combined for 21 saves on 25 Swedish shots.

To decide their opponents, Canada and Finland would faceoff later in the day.

And this one was all Canada as the Canadians returned to the gold medal game at the World Juniors by defeating the Finns 5-0.

Ty Smith finished the game with two shots on goal and an even plus/minus in 17:37 of ice time while Kevin Bahl had three shots and was a plus-3 in 20:16 of time on ice – good for third in ice time amongst Canadian defensemen.

Connor McMichael broke the seal on the game when he scored from Aidan Dudas 1:48 into the game. Alexis Lafreniere scored from Nolan Foote and Barrett Hayton at 3:05 and 50 seconds after that, Jamie Drysdale scored from Raphael Lavoie and Quinton Byfield to make it three up. Ty Dellandrea added one at 14:49 from Dudas and McMichael to give Canada a 4-0 lead heading into the second.

Lafreniere, scoring on the power play while Anttoni Honka was off for holding, added his second of the night from Calen Addison and Hayton at 17:53 of the second to give Canada a 5-0 lead going into the third.

And that was it. Canada needed no more as they held off the Finns to head to the gold medal game.

The goaltending saw Joel Hofer stop all 32 shots he saw for the shutout while Justus Annuen made 34 saves on 39 Canadian shots.

So now the Swedes and the Finns will matchup in an all-Scandinavian bronze medal game as the defending champ Finns try to medal again this year. The gold medal game will feature a matchup of Canada against Russia.

Also, the relegation series will go the distance as Kazakhstan defeated Germany today 4-1 to force a third and final game. The winner will remain in the tournament next year while the loser moves down a division.

Champions will be crowned tomorrow and we will have coverage of that for you right here.