USA Hockey vs Canada

Team+USA%3B+Photo+Courtesy+of+Patrick+Moynihan

Team USA; Photo Courtesy of Patrick Moynihan

Monica Badolian, Staff Writer

The United States junior ice hockey team vigorously defeated Canada 2-0 in Edmonton, Alberta, on Tuesday, January 5, to win the gold medal in the first world junior ice hockey championship. Canada came into Tuesday night’s Gold Medal game to win a second back-to-back World Juniors Championship. They had gone undefeated in the six past games. Although USA Hockey had three shutouts in the competition, they lost to Russia in the starter round and had a near disaster against Finland in Monday night’s semifinal. There were roster concerns even before the competition, as the group lost a ton of their depth — including San Jose Sharks prospect Thomas Bordeleau, who was out because of the coronavirus protocols before the group made their way to Edmonton, Alberta. Those worries were quickly gone. Again, USA goaltender Spencer Knight was on top of his game, making an ideal 34/34 saves. Canada wasn’t going easy on Knight, with 34 shots. Team USA was held to only six shots in the second period and one shot in the third, yet Canada couldn’t break Knight. 

Scoring halfway through the first period, Los Angeles Kings prospect Alex Turcotte struck first for the USA. An assist from Trevor Zegras met Drew Helleson at the point, and Turcotte locked in his shot in advance. Zegras himself stuck after, only thirty seconds into the second period. Bo Byram, Quinton Byfield, and Braden Schneider all had their chances in the second and third periods. However, all USA needed to do was hold on. Anaheim Ducks prospect, Trevor Zegras, was named the 2021 World Juniors Most Valuable Player, after leading the scores with 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists). He moved past Jeremy Roenick and fell one short of Doug Weight’s record of 19, set in 1991. He was the only U.S. player to be named to the competition all-star team, joining Canada’s Levi, Dylan Cozens, and Bowen Byram, Finland’s Ville Heinola, and Germany’s Tim Stuetzle. This game marked a record-setting 12th shutout in a solitary U20 World Juniors Championship tournament. 

The win gave USA Hockey its fourth consecutive triumph over Canada in a World Junior Championship final, having won in 2004, 2010, 2017, and 2021. USA is now 4-1 in gold-medal games against Canada, which means they own 18 golds in the tournament’s set of experiences. USA goaltender, Dustin Wolf, did not look at the fact that he and his teammates defeated Canada, “At the end of the day it was a game we had looked forward to the entire tournament and knew we would make the most of it. Throughout the tournament, it was all about taking each game as one barrel at a time to finish our journey, and we were able to accomplish that. It was an unbelievable feeling to win gold. There are really no words to explain it all,” said Wolf. “Through camp and isolation to the first game against Russia and to finish it off with gold made it something myself and everyone on the team will never forget.” With these moving words from Wolf, many fans were disappointed they weren’t able to watch the game in person. Even the players felt that it was different with none of their fans. “It was definitely different but wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. They pumped some sound into the building, it allowed for talking to be heard easier, which was nice. Obviously, it’s really fun with 20,000 plus people in the building but it was an outstanding nonetheless.”

The bubble journey was different this year for these players but winning the gold made it unforgettable. Looking back to early settled team identity words like “Dictate” and “Gold Medal Standard,” it should’ve shocked no one how the USA would play in the gold-medal game.