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
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.
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.
the first period was up, with exactly one minute to play, Matias Maccelli
scored unassisted to give Finland back their lead, 2-1.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
had secured their first World Junior gold medal on European soil since 2008.
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!