- The United States upset Canada 2-0 in the championship game to win the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championship.
- The World Junior Hockey Championship features the best Under 20 players in the world with many serious NHL prospects.
- Canada has won the tournament 18 times.
There are still a few areas in which the United States isn’t a complete laughing stock. Hockey is one of them. It wasn’t that many decades ago when the only time the US could be competitive in hockey was on a complete fluke a la ‘Miracle on Ice’. That has changed completely and now the US isn’t far behind neighboring Canada in terms of overall hockey talent.
Even so, the US team victory at the 2021 World Junior Championships was something of a shock due in large part to the dominating form that Canada had displayed leading up to the Finals. The Canadians had outscored opponents 41-4 in the preliminary rounds and prior to the final game had yet to yield an even strength goal. The US played their best game of the tournament on both ends of the ice, pressuring Canada in the first period and excelling on defense after their opponents regained their composure. Alex Turcotte–already establishing himself as a future star with the Los Angeles Kings at age 19–scored the first goal early in the game to give the US team a 1-0 lead. It was the first even strength goal of the tournament against the Canadians and gave the US a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
Anaheim Ducks’ prospect Trevor Zegras extended the US lead in the first minute of the second period when he slipped a loose puck past Canada goaltender Devon Levi. Zegras lead the tournament in scoring with 18 points and earned the MVP award for the event. From that point on, Canada was relentless outshooting the US 25-8 in the second and third period. Boston College goaltender Spencer Knight was up to the task and kept the Canadians off the scoreboard to preserve the victory. Canada head coach Andre Tourigny liked the way his team played for most of the game despite the loss:
“This is the first team that really pushed back in the first period. We were not used to it and it took a little bit of time to get back at it. After we adjusted, we were really good, but we didn’t score.”
Canada’s Dylan Cozens–who finished second in tournament scoring with 16 points–concurred:
“We had our looks, but Knight played great. We didn’t get the bounces.”
US head coach Nate Leaman said he would have been proud of his team win or lose:
“I told the guys after the game, I was going to be proud whether we won or lost this game. This was a group that cared about each other. They had good character. The team came together and they cared more about a team than anything individually.”
At least in finals meetings the US has had the Canadians’ number. This was the fourth consecutive win by the Americans in US-Canada finals (2004, 2010, 2017 and 2021). Overall, the USA is 4-1 in gold-medal games against Canada