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!

Canadians, Americans, Russians All Win Big at WJC

It was a big day at the 2021 World Junior Championship in Edmonton. Most literally with big margins of victories for the winners.

We will begin with the first game on the slate: a 7-0 United States win over the Czech Republic.

Following a scoreless first period, Bobby Brink scored just 5:33 into the second period with Brett Berard picking up the lone assist.

Following matching minors to the Americans’ John Farinacci and the Czechs’ Adam Najman for roughing, we had some four-on-four hockey with more room on the ice. The US would take advantage when the tournament’s leading scorer, Trevor Zegras notched another goal, assisted by Henry Thrun to make it 2-0 US. That goal came 13:30 into the second period.

A little over two minutes later, at the 15:56 mark of the third, Brink scored his second of the night – off assists from Matthew Beniers and Ryan Johnson. It was now 3-0 heading into the second intermission.

In the third, the floodgates opened for the Americans. Zegras scored his second of the game 6:03 into the frame to make it 4-0. Arthur Kaliyev scored on the power play 8:18 into the period from Cam York and Zegras, who picked up his third point of the night. At 10:22. Cole Caufield scored, again on the power play, this time only needing about 12 seconds to do so. Zegras got another point – this time the primary assist on the goal – and York picked up the secondary.

At the 11:22 mark, Matthew Boldy scored, again on the power play, from Zegras, who is just a point producing machine right now, and Caufield. That gave us our final of 7-0. Following that goal, the Czechs pulled Lukas Parik in favor of Nick Malik and Malik ended up shutting out the US the rest of the way.

Things got a little chippy when Stanislav Svozil was called for boarding with five minutes to go in the game and also received a 10-minute misconduct to go with it.

Statistically, the US peppered Czech goaltending with 32 shots and it was close with the Czechs firing 22 Spencer Knight’s way. The difference was that Parik and Malik made 25 saves combined on those 32 shots. Knight was equal to all 22 he saw.

Patrick Moynihan had no points or shots on goal and was an even plus/minus in just 8:17 of ice time. Jaromir Pytlik did not play for the Czechs.

The Americans close out the preliminary round on New Year’s Eve against Sweden next, trying to win Group B. Czech Republic will face Austria in their prelim finale on the 31st as well.

But next on the docket was Canada taking on Switzerland and totally blitzing them, 10-0.

The Canadians scored early and (sort of) often. Philip Tomasino scored just 1:30 into the game, but that was all the scoring for the first period.

Things began to pick up in the second when Dylan Cozens scored on the power play. Then Jakob Pelletier scored. Then Ryan Suzuki scored on the power play. Then Connor McMichael scored. By the end of the second frame, it was 6-0 Canada. The Canadians had scored six unanswered, five of those in the second period.

The third just confirmed the Canadian onslaught. Quinton Byfield scored on the power play to kick off the final stanza. Then Byfield scored again. Then Cole Perfetti scored to break up Byfield’s natural hat trick bid. Then Kaiden Guhle scored. Pelletier finally put a capper on things when he scored with about 5:30 to go in the game to make the final 10-0 Canada.

The Canadians outshot the Swiss 52-15. Switzerland’s Noah Patenaude saved 42 of that blitzing while Devon Levi had a relatively easy night, stopping all 15 shots.

Dawson Mercer had a shot on goal and was an even plus/minus (no idea how that happens when you play 15:11 in a 10-0 drubbing, but he must have been busy killing penalties).


Finally, the nightcap saw Russia defeat Austria by a score of 7-1.

Russia got things started off in style when Rodion Amirov scored on a penalty shot after Jacob Pfeffer tripped him up on a clear break on goal. That gave the Russians the 1-0 lead 4:04 into the game. Vasil Podkolzin scored a little over two minutes later to make it 2-0. Podkolzin would scored one more time before the period was out when he connected on a nice passing play from Aremi Knyazev and Amirov. Marat Khusnutdinov gave Russia a 4-0 lead heading into the first intermission. A shot by Podkolzin dribbled by Austrian goalie Jakob Brandner and was pushed over the goal line by Khusnutdinov.

Austria got on the board 7:38 into the second when Senna Peeters scored from Kasper Marco. That made it 4-1 and things seemed to be pulling even. The Austrians played Russia well in the second, keeping them off the scoreboard. At the 8:30 mark of the period, just after Peeters’ goal, Ilya Safonov was called for boarding and received a 10-minute misconduct. He would not return until late in the second.

But the Red Machine rolled on. In the third. Artemi Knyazev scored on the power play to make it 5-1. Arseni Gritsyuk, the Devils prospect, picked up a point with the secondary assist on Yegor Afanasiev’s goal 17:44 into the third to make it 6-1 Russia.

Gritsyuk would pick up his second point of the game – this time a goal – 45 seconds later. He clanged one in off of the post to make it 7-1. Afanasiev and Roman Bychkov had the assists on his tally.

Again, the shot totals in this game were very one-sided. Russia outshot Austria 50-18. Brandner made 43 saves while Artur Akhtyamov had a light night with 17 saves.

Shakir Mukhamadullin had one shot on goal and was an even plus/minus with 19:23 of total ice. Gritsyuk had the goal and assist for two points and five total shots. He was a plus-2 in 14:02 of ice time.

Russia will close out prelim play trying to wrap up Group B when they face Sweden on December 30.

 As usual, we will see you tomorrow with coverage of that game.