USA Takes Battle of North America to Win World Junior Gold

The United States of America have won gold at the World Junior Championship following a 2-0 shutout effort over their rivals from Canada on Tuesday evening.
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Matt Zambonin - IIHF

For the fourth time in five games between the two nations, the United States of America has beaten Canada to secure gold at the World Junior Championship with a 2-0 win on Tuesday evening.

The win marked USA's fourth gold medal since 2010, beating Canada for gold in three of the four events. No other team has won more in that span, with Canada and Finland winning three each since 2014.

The storyline of the tournament was the lack of adversity that Canada had to face throughout the tournament. The loss of Kirby Dach was a challenge, but the Canadians had a strong team regardless and could play without him. That was proven by a perfect round-robin and a pair of shutouts heading into Tuesday's contest, but they were in for a rough ride against their rivals from the south.

After scoring in the opening period of every game and never trailing at any point, the Canadians surrendered a goal at 13:25 when Alex Turcotte deflected Drew Helleson's shot past Devon Levi, the first even-strength goal that Canada had given up in the tournament up to that point.

Then, just 32 seconds into the opening period, Trevor Zegras made it 2-0. A weird bounce off of an Arthur Kaliyev shot saw Zegras retrieve the puck to the right of Devon Levi, beating the Florida Panthers goaltender to double USA's advantage.

With the goal, Zegras found himself tied with Jordan Schroeder for the most points in American World Junior history with 27 despite playing one less tournament. Zegras' 18th point of the 2021 edition put him just one point behind Doug Weight for the most in a single tournament by an American, set back in 1991.

From there, the Canadians showed some extra pressure, but the Americans continued to do a great job of limiting the high-danger scoring chances and keeping Canada to the perimeter. Spencer Knight played one of his best games in international play, coming up huge on a late-game Connor McMichael breakaway - helping to secure the 23-save shutout and the championship for his country.

The win marked the cumulative effort for many of USA's top 2001-born players, who were members of the United States National Development Team Program that had many strong showings as a group. It ended in spectacular fashion, with goals coming from two of the team's top players, Turcotte and Zegras, with Knight - considered to be the top goaltender to ever play for the program - finishing with a perfect final game.

Finland Wins Bronze

Earlier in the day, Finland scored four unanswered to defeat Russia 4-1 en route to a bronze medal. Anton Lundell had a pair and Juuso Parssinen and Mikko Petman scored one each after Russia's Ilya Safonov scored early in the contest. 

The win is Finland's eighth bronze in tournament history, but the first time Finland has won a medal other than gold since 2006 in Vancouver. Russia's streak of winning a medal at the tournament ended after two years, the longest active streak before Canada reached the gold medal game this year.

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