The gold and bronze-medal matchups at the 2021 World Junior Championship are set after Canada defeated Russia and the USA bested Finland in their semifinal meetings on Monday.
Canada Easily Beats Russia
We’ve seen some high-intensity battles between Canada and Russia over the years, but last night’s game won’t be one for the record books. Team Canada walked away with a convincing 5-0 victory to book their trip to the gold-medal game for the second straight year and fourth time in the last five. Canada enters the finals after back-to-back shutout wins and, amazingly, they haven’t allowed an even-strength goal all tournament, that’s six games and 360 minutes.
Canada continued their trend of scoring early after Colorado Avalanche prospect Alex Newhook got his team on the board 59 seconds into the game. The goal was originally thought to have hit the post but was ruled a good goal after review.
Washington Capitals prospect Connor McMichael and Winnipeg Jets prospect Cole Perfetti grabbed their fourth and second goals of the tournament, respectively, to end the first period with a commanding 3-0 lead. Canada added to their lead in the second period with New York Rangers prospect Braden Schneider grabbing his first goal of the tournament. Team Russia thought they had cut into Canada’s lead with a late power-play goal, but it was disallowed.
In the third period, Russian defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin rang one off the post, but that was as close as they got to solving Canadian netminder Devin Levi. Buffalo Sabres prospect Dylan Cozens added an empty-net goal to seal the victory.
The top three players of the tournament for Russia were Nashville Predators prospects Yaroslav Askarov and Semyon Chistyakov and Vancouver Canucks prospect Vasily Podkolzin. The top three players of the tournament for Canada were Levi, Cozens and Avalanche prospect Bowen Byram.
USA Earns Tough Win Against Finland
In a rematch of the 2019 gold-medal game, the USA got their revenge with a hard-fought 4-3 victory over a resilient Finnish squad. For Los Angeles Kings fans, Team USA’s first goal of the game was a beauty. A trio of Kings prospects combined to give their team a 1-0 lead, with Alex Turcotte picking up the goal and assisted by Arthur Kaliyev and Brock Faber. Finland tied the game under two minutes later on the power play after another Kings prospect, Kasper Simontaival, picked up his third goal of the tournament.
The USA jumped to a 3-1 lead before the midway point of the second period after Arizona Coyotes prospect John Farinacci and Minnesota Wild prospect Matthew Boldy each grabbed their fifth goals of the tournament. Anaheim Ducks prospect Trevor Zegras registered a primary assist on Boldy’s goal to put him in a tie for the lead in tournament scoring with 16 points. He sits second in goals with six and first in assists with ten.
If we’ve learned anything in this tournament it’s never to count Team Finland out. Simontaival cut the deficit to one just after the midway point of the period with his fourth goal of the tournament, and with less than four minutes remaining in the game, Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Roni Hirvonen tied the game on the power play.
The teams looked headed for overtime, but Kings prospect Arthur Kaliyev wired his third goal of the tournament past Finnish netminder Kari Piiroinen with 1:16 remaining to give the USA a 4-3 victory and a trip to the gold-medal game against Canada.
The top three players of the tournament for Finland were Jets prospect Ville Heinola, Florida Panthers Anton Lundell, and Maple Leafs prospect Mikko Kokkonen. The top three players of the tournament for Team USA were Panthers prospect Spencer Knight, Philadelphia Flyers prospect Cam York and Zegras. Russia and Finland will play for the bronze at 5:30 pm EST and Canada will meet the USA for gold at 9:30 pm EST.