World Juniors Final: Team Canada Vs Team Russia Gold Medal Match


The World Juniors Final marks the end today as Team Canada and Team Russia go head to head at 6 pm in Toronto. This is it, this one is for all the marbles. Gold medal or bust some say for Team Canada. The fact is though, after 2 years out of the podium, the maple leaf has already improved over previous years by securing a medal. This is the first big Tournament under Tom Renney’s watch, and it can already be declared a success.

Canada has a few grievances to settle with the Russians. Besides being historical rivals, the sons of the motherland have beat the home side in their own turf before, falling in Winnipeg at the final back in 1999. Then there were the last minute heroics by Edmonton Oilers’ own Jordan Eberle back in Ottawa in 2009, when he helped best the Russians in a thrilling match. The Russians would return the favor, denying Canada of the gold medal match in 2012 by beating them in the semi final, on Alberta lands nonetheless.

More from International Tournaments

Lest we forget, one of the tournament’s worst upsets ever happened also in a Canada-Russia playoff contest. The year was 2011, the place was Buffalo, NY. Canada entered the third period of the Gold Medal Match with a 3-0 lead. The Russians had switched goaltenders during the second period. Then they scored 5 unanswered goals,  the first 2 in a span of 13 seconds and 3 in 5 minutes,  to defeat the Canadians. Even if Team Canada enters the third period with a big lead this time, few in the building will be able to exhale, players and coaches included, until the final horn. This game is sure to be one for the ages from start to finish.

The home side has been strong, very strong in fact, allowing the least goals (4) and scoring the most (21) in the preliminary round, beating the Americans along the way and with a goal differential in the playoffs of +12. As of this writing there is no starting goaltender yet, but with .971 and .933 save percentages and GAA of .5 and 1.5 for Zach Fucale and Eric Comrie, either goalie would do just fine. Chances are the coach goes with the experienced hand in Fucale, although if he looks at NHL stats, the rested goalie would be the better choice on back to back games.

The Russians have done their part as well, trouncing the Swedes, tournament darlings, 4-1 in the semis. Russia is that one team who grow as a tournament progresses, going form having to outlast Denmark on a shoot out during boxing day, to losing to the Czechs, to a convincing showing against Sweden. Their softest spot is the goaltending, but their blue line is big and older than most.

Other Notes Of Interest Pre World Juniors Final:

  • Nick Petan was the story of the game by scoring a hat trick and being denied at least on 3 more sure goal chances. The camera shots of his parents pumping their chests and throwing a hat on the rink are a testament of a proud family and a proud nation.
  • Darnell Nurse has been nasty, effective on defense, calm and fast and powerful. If all goes according to plan, the Edmonton Oilers should have their first pairing shut down d man for at least a decade.
  • The other Oilers’ prospect, defenseman William Lagesson from Sweden, has been playing in the top 4 for a deep team Sweden. He has played somewhat beyond expectations, being very effective on the back check in a shutdown role. He might turn out to be a pleasant surprise for the NHL club.
  • Connor McDavid has finally looked like what we’ve been promised. The guy can create, skate, dish, shoot, confuse the defence and use every single inch of the ice in his favour. His favorite spot seems to be the back of the net, reminiscent of Gretzky’s office. Wherever he ends up in the NHL, he will be a pleasure to watch.
  • Hard to say how the mood would have been had Canada lost, but filled with the joy of victory, the mostly Canadian crowd at the Air Canada center in Toronto did a class act by chanting “goalie” in reference to Slovak netminder Denis Godla who, despite the 5 goals against, stopped almost 40 shots and kept his team (14 SOG) in the thick of things (1-0) until late in the second period when the Canadians finally cracked the game open. In fact, Godla was the main reason Slovakia made it this far in the tournament. After wasting picks on 2 somewhat obscure goaltenders at last year’s draft, the Oilers would do no worse spending one on this fellow this time around. Swedes and Slovaks will duke it out for the bronze today at 2 pm.
  • Germany has been relegated from the tournament falling to the Swiss 2 times by scores of 5-2. How much scorn the Germans night feel against the Oilers for denying them Leon Draisaitl is unknown, but after the head of German ice hockey came to Alberta before the tournament and probably spoke in person to Craig MacTavish, and after MacT ended up sending Draisaitl back to Junior Hockey, it looks pretty idiotic to no have allowed Leon to participate in the tournament. It wasn’t only about gaining favor with the Germans, it was about allowing Leon to develop leadership. What kind of development program actively shields a player from taking on a leading role?. Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous and idiotic.