Canada Wins Gold at WHC

Today the medals were decided at the 2021 IIHF World Hockey Championship at Arena Riga in Riga, Latvia. Canada won gold in a thriller over Finland and the USA won bronze with a blowout of Germany.

The USA-Germany game started with a Jason Robertson double minor assessed 58 seconds into the game for a high stick.

The power play was killed at 4:58 and four seconds following that, Christian Wolanin scored for the Americans. He scored unassisted at 5:02 to make it 1-0 USA.

The Americans took that lead into the second when, 6:27 into the new frame, Conor Garland scored to make it 2-0. Robertson and Wolanin had the assists.

Less than two minutes after the Garland goal, the Americans tripled their lead when Jack Drury scored at 8:05 from Sasha Chmelevski.

At 8:27, 22 seconds after the goal that made it 3-0, Kevin Rooney took a tripping penalty. Just as that was killed off by the USA, Germany’s Matthias Plachta took a holding call at 10:46, putting the US on the power play.

At 11:35, Robertson notched his second point of the night when he scored from Garland and Tage Thompson to make it 4-0.

Less than 20 seconds after that goal, at 11:53, Germany’s Nicolas Krammer took a cross-checking call that put the Americans back on the power play.

Rinse, wash, repeat.

At 12:15, Trevor Moore scored the Americans second power play goal when he scored from Garland and Thompson. That made it 5-0.

The Americans lost Chmelevski at 12:31 when he got called for a five-minute major for a check to the head and neck area and a game misconduct. At 13:21, Colin Blackwell took a tripping penalty, putting the Germans up 5-on-3.

The Americans got through that trouble, but Dominik Bittner got Germany on the board 9:28 into the third. He got assists from Plachta and Dominik Kahun on the goal that made it 5-1 USA.

The USA would add one more goal at 9:53, less than thirty seconds after Germany got on the board. Ryan Donato scored from Adam Clendening and Thompson to make it 6-1.

Things got a little chippy at the end of the game. At 12:21, Germany’s Korbinian Holzer and Maximilian Kastner went off for interference and roughing, respectively. Donato joined them for a rough.

At 15:38, Markus Eisenschmid went off for slashing and roughing and the USA’s Blackwell went of for the same thing.

Finally, the US took a too many men on the ice bench minor with ten seconds remaining in regulation.

But the US survived and took the bronze. Following the game, in a show of sportsmanship, the Germans and Americans shook hands Stanley Cup Playoffs-style. It was great to see them do that with the way discipline broke down later on in the game.

Matt Tennyson played 21:35 while Matt Hellickson did not suit up for the Americans.

Congratulations to Team USA for medaling in the 2021 IIHF World Hockey Championship.

If the bronze medal game was a forgone conclusion due to its blowout nature, then the gold medal game went down to the wire.

Canada defeated Finland to take home their 27th gold medal at this tournament and become the first team to lose their first three games in the tournament and still win gold at the end.

Early on, Justin Danforth of Canada took a boarding penalty and a ten-minute misconduct meaning he would be unavailable for most of the first period. That came 4:15 into the game.

At 6:56, Nick Paul of Canada was called for a high stick to put the Finns on the power play. One second after the power play ended, Mikael Ruohomaa scored from Oliwer Kaski to make it 1-0 Finland.

Finland got into penalty troubler early in the frame when Arttu Ruotsalainen took a hooking call at 1:26 and Atte Ohtamaa took a tripping penalty to put the Canadians on the two-man advantage for about 12 seconds. It was on the Ohtamaa penalty that Canada would tie things.

Maxime Comtois scored at 4:30 from Connor Brown and Sean Walker to tie things up at one apiece.

With 4:03 to go in the second, Adam Henrique had seemingly put the Canadians ahead, but the Finns challenged for offsides. The replay was pretty conclusive that Canada was offside when they entered the zone, so the goal was overturned. It was the second straight game that Henrique had a goal overturned on him.

Finland retook the lead 5:27 into the third period when Petteri Lindbohm scored from Kim Nousiainen and Ruohomaa. It was now 2-1 Finland.

Canada’s Walker took a boarding penalty 8:38 to go in the third and was also assessed a ten-minute misconduct.

But it would be Canada that would have the last laugh on a power play. At 12:19, Ruohomaa went off for tripping. Just 18 seconds into the man advantage, Canada capitalized.

Henrique, denied a goal earlier, scored at 12:37 from Comtois and Connor Brown to tie the game at two.

When the final horn sounded and we had not settled things, it was off to a full twenty-minute three-on-three overtime.

It only took 6:26 for Canada to get things done. Nick Paul took a return pass from Brown in tight on Finnish goalie Jussi Olkinuora and put home the gold medal winning goal. Our final was 3-2 Canada.

So Canada got their revenge on Finland who defeated them in this tournament in 2019 (the World Championship was not held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congrats to Canada on another gold medal. We will see you next year for the 2022 IIHF World Championship in Finland.

Red, White, Blue and Golden

I admit right now, I stole that title from Stephen Nelson, the play-by-play man calling the USA game for the NHL Network.

Today was medal day at the 2021 World Junior Championship. Russia and Finland would tangle for bronze while the Americans and Canadians would do battle for gold.

First, to the bronze medal game. Finland defeated Russia, 4-1 to claim bronze for the first time since 2006. Russia went medal-less for only the second time in the last 11 tournaments.

The Russians got on the board first when Ilya Safonov scored 6:03 into the contest. Maxim Groshev had the lone assist on what would turn out to be the only Russian goal of the evening.

In the second period, Anton Lundell tied things 5:05 into the new frame. He got assists from Matias Mantykivi and Topi Niemela.

The third period featured Mikko Petman scoring 1:13 in to give the Finns their first lead of the afternoon. Samuel Helenius and Eemil Viro had the assists.

The Russians would then pull goaltender Yaroslav Askarov with just over a minute to go in the game. Lundell would score into the empty net for his second of the game unassisted to make it 3-1 at 18:32.

Off the faceoff, Russia would pull Askarov again and this time, Juuso Parssinen scored into the vacated cage to make it 4-1 Finland. Mikael Pyyhtia had the assist. The Finns had notched two empty netters in the course of almost a minute, as this goal came at the 19:47 mark.

And that was it. The Finns ended up with 32 shots to Russia’s 29. Both Askarov and Finnish goalie Kari Piiroinen had 28 saves.

So, Finland are the 2021 World Junior Championship Bronze Medalists and Russia finishes just out of contention – a hard place to be no doubt.

Shakir Mukhamadullin had two shots on goal and was a minus-2 in 19:27 of total ice time. Arseni Gritsyuk did not play for Russia.

But now on to the game that would decide the World Junior champions for the year, as North American rivals Canada and the United States got set to go.

This seemed like a daunting task for the Americans as the Canadians had outscored their opponents by a whopping margin of 41-4 and had never even trailed in the tournament.

Canada was on home ice and looked to be the overwhelming favorites. But the US had had some trials of their own, losing to Russia in the opener and then coming back to win their group and the challenges of Slovakia and Finland in the medal rounds were enough, it seemed, to steel them for battle.

And it only took two, well actually one. Alex Turcotte, after the US came out flying and really applying pressure to the Canadians in their own end, scored from Trevor Zegras and Drew Helleson to make it 1-0 USA just 13:25 into the game.

And that one would hold up as the game-winner.

Zegras scored 32 seconds into the second period from Arthur Kaliyev to make it 2-0, this was just (an important) insurance goal.

American goaltender Spencer Knight stood on his head all night long. Late in the third, he stopped Canada’s Connor McMichael on a breakaway, giving him no space to shoot at and stoning him, preserving the shutout.

The Canadians pulled goalie Devon Levi late, but to no avail. The Americans were the gold medal winners while Canada – the 2020 defending champs – took home silver.

Canada outshot the US 34 to 21, which just shows how locked in Knight was and how great the Americans played defensively. Levi made 19 saves while Knight turned aside all 34 he saw.

Dawson Mercer had a shot on net with an even plus/minus rating in 9:13 of ice time. Patrick Moynihan, who did return in the last game against Finland (I was wrong), was an even plus/minus and did not register a shot in 11:55 of time on ice.

So, that wraps up the 2021 World Junior Championship from Edmonton. Congratulations to the medalists and all of the participants in the tournament, you really put on a great show in the last two weeks.

Next week, Devils hockey returns!