Team USA beat Canada 2-0 to win a gold medal in the 2021 World Junior Championship. This is the first time Canada was shutout in a gold medal game. This is the first shutout in a medal-round game in U.S. history. People will remember this win.
U.S. coach, Nate Leaman (SUNY Cortland alum), who won a Frozen Four with Providence in 2015 and now he can add a gold medal to his trophy case.
Spencer Knight overcame some adversity, remember when some were wondering if ‘he was the guy?’, well he was, and is and always will be. Here’s a list that will forever be on Knight’s resume:
- This is the first shutout in a medal-round game in U.S. history
- Spencer Knight has set the U.S. record for most shutouts in a World Juniors single tournament (3)
- Spencer Knight has set the U.S. record for most shutouts in a World Juniors career (3)
- The shutout set a U.S. record for most team shutouts in a tournament (4)
It all started when defenseman Drew Helleson (Avalanche) took a shot at the net and Alex Turcotte was in the crease for a deflection that found the twine. Trevor Zegras (Ducks) got that sequence started and got an assist, his 20th (tying a program record with Jordan Schroeder) backing up his pre-game quote saying Team Canada goalie, Devon Levi (Panthers) hasn’t been tested enough in 5-on-5 play. The Anaheim prospect won the scoring title (18 points in 7 games) and the tournament MVP as well. He tied Schroeder with the program record with 27 points in the tournament.
“On behalf of U.S. hockey thanks to everyone for helping to run this tournament, during this pandemic, we couldn’t have done it without all the help and support. We appreciate everyone that made this happen,” said Turcotte. “That was by far the biggest goal I ever scored in my life. An unbelievable feeling and a dream come true.”
Levi won best goaltender, but he was bested. I voted for Knight, but he walked away with the hardware. He didn’t do it alone. The U.S. defense kept the puck out of the middle, and Canada at times seemed content to try and score from the corners. Sure, Knight had to “snow angel” once in the third, and Connor McMichael (Capitals) had a breakaway that was limited to a straight-ahead shot, because of great defense, those things helped Knight look even better than he was. One fun save was one the U.S. goaltender made on Connor Zary (Flames) even though it appeared he didn’t see it, sometimes the rubber finds you when things are going well.
Canada failed to win back-to-back titles, and right now that is one of the hardest things to do in sports. We’ll see if Team USA can do it. They get the next kick at that can.
Here’s the latest on the barrel controversy. It was brought on to the ice for a reason, it wasn’t disrespectful to Canada. Leaman told the story.
“When I was an assistant coach in 2007 it was brought here by Ron Rolston. It’s about crossing the heart of the Sahara Desert, crossing a terrain that’s 500 miles long that over 1,300 people had perished, and the only way they could figure to cross this part of the Sahara, was to put barrels out. When you got to one barrel all you could see was the next barrel on the horizon. I shared the story with the guys before the tournament and let them know we’re not going to talk about the gold medal. All we’re talking about is going one barrel at a time. To be completely honest, it was the same thing Ron Rolston did in 2007. I loved it. It was a great image and a way to get through this tough tournament and stay in the process and not get ahead of ourselves.”
The win was massive. It wasn’t completely unexpected but the way they controlled the game, against a massively talented Canadian team was the impressive part, and now Hockey Canada will go back to the drawing board. They may have had the most first-rounders on their team, but that wasn’t enough to win a gold medal.