Throughout the World Juniors tournament, we’ll be keeping track of all the action and bringing you all of the results in one place.
Canada vs. Russia
The semifinals were upon us last night and things sure were set to get interesting, with both of our matchups being rematches from the pre-tournament, interestingly enough. We kicked things off with Canada and Russia, as Canada was looking to keep what’s been a pretty stellar run going. And, well, they sure did get themselves off to a good and interesting start. Just 59 seconds in, Alex Newhook (who missed last game with an injury) looked to hit the crossbar and we thought “oh wow, that was close, good chance,” and kept things rolling, until the horn of doom sounded to let us know that the goal was being reviewed. And it turns out that the puck did go in! So we had a good goal and that sure was something.
Canada was really building momentum from here (but they did also have some help from Russia making some of their own problems, creating scrambles in the defensive zone when, for some reason, Yaroslav Askarov kept dropping his stick). All the same, they picked up a second goal from Connor McMichael just past the midpoint of the period, and despite coming up empty on two power play in the second half of the period, Cole Perfetti was still able to pick up one more for Canada before the first intermission. Canada was able to tack on one early in the second period when a shot by Braden Schneider found its way in through traffic, and even though it was still technically early, it felt like this this one was all but over.
We don’t really want to belabor the point here, but Canada dominated through most of this game, and Russia didn’t really seem to have it. They got a few good looks—including one hit post that would have made things really interesting with seven minutes to go—and were establishing some pressure late when they finally pulled their goalie, but it was too little too late, and with Dylan Cozens icing the game with the empty netter, that just about sealed it. In short, Canada was really running the table in this one, and the win felt pretty decisive. So Canada’s huge run in this tournament continues.
Final: Canada 5 - Russia 0
Next game up (CAN): Jan. 5, 9:30 ET vs. USA
Next game up (RUS): Jan. 5, 6:00 ET vs. Finland
USA vs. Finland
Our second game of the night saw the US and Finland facing off, and boy oh boy was this one an emotional rollercoaster. The US came out with some jump in this one, very nearly getting themselves on the board just 26 seconds into the game with a great chance for Cole Caufield in front. They couldn’t get the bounce there, but no matter, they stuck with it and were able to get the first lead of the game later in the period with a goal by Alex Turcotte just past the 12 minute mark. It wasn’t going to be a runaway victory for the US though, not this time around, and their own mistakes came back to bite them when Sam Colengelo took a slashing penalty and Kasper Simontaival scored on the power play for Finland just 1:27 after Turcotte’s goal. This one was going to be interesting.
From here, Finland really seemed to pick up the edge in momentum, and the US was struggling. They were able to create some space for themselves in the second period, reworking their game plan and reemphasizing stretching the ice, and it paid off for them. They picked up a goal for John Farinacci like this, to pull themselves back in the lead in regain some momentum. They were able to keep that rolling, closing out the second period strong when, after drawing a four-minute power play after getting caught with a stick to the face, Matthew Boldy extended the Americans’ lead to two.
But the third period is when things really got wild, so buckle up. The US kicked off the period on the penalty kill, as Caufield threw the puck over the glass on a clearing attempt. They were able to successfully kill that one off, but Finland was picking up some steam on that one, and just past the midway point of the period, Simontaival picked up his second of the game to get them back within one. The US was trying to find a way to stop the bleeding, and the way to do that was certainly not taking another puck over the glass penalty inside the final five minutes of the period, but that’s what happened, and a breakdown in front opened up a chance for Roni Hirvonen, whose shot just sort of dribbled through on Spencer Knight. So suddenly the game was tied and we were starting to think about overtime and who 3-on-3 was going to best suit, but the US had other ideas. Able to get the top line of Turcotte, Trevor Zegras, and Arthur Kaliyev on the ice and with some zone time in the last two minutes of play, they did what they did best. With a bit of cycling and kind of a bang-bang play, Turcotte was able to get the puck up to Kaliyev who was somehow wide open in the slot, and he wasn’t going to miss from there. The US was back in the lead with a minute and 16 seconds left in the game. They were able to hold onto it, and after a dramatic game, the US had punched their ticket to the gold medal game.
Final: USA 4 - Finland 3
Next game up (USA): Jan. 5, 9:30 ET vs. Canada
Next game up (FIN): Jan. 5, 6:00 ET vs Russia