Canada secured a berth in the finals at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton, Alberta after another dominant win. They topped Russia 5-0 in the semi-finals and will play the United States for gold.
Heading into the game, Canada revealed new lines, adding Alex Newhook back into the lineup. He missed the quarter-finals with an upper-body injury. Canada was certainly glad to have his speed and energy back and it didn’t take long for him to get on the board.
Less than a minute in, Newhook took a shot that rang off the middle bar and bounced out. Everyone at ice level thought it hit the post and the play continued. It took off-ice officials reviewing the play to find the goal. This early lead threw goalie Yaroslav Askarov and the Russian team off.
Canada continued to build on the lead with more goals coming from Connor McMichael and Cole Perfetti (PP) in the first period. Askarov had an off night, looking erratic and struggling positionally. He couldn’t hold onto his stick and was unsteady for most of the game. It was a shock to see Coach Igor Larionov leave him in to start the second period.
Canada’s fourth goal was scored by Braden Schneider, defenceman from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He put a laser of a shot through traffic. Askarov lost his stick and that mixed with the inability to see through to Schneider allowed for Canada to get further ahead.
Russia did manage to score a power play marker making it 4-1 but the goal was quickly overturned due to an offside earlier in the play. This momentum shift may have given Russia a boost to try and make a comeback but they seemed defeated by the disallowed goal. While they still pressured Canada for the remainder of the game, it wasn’t enough to get on the scoreboard. Dylan Cozens put the puck in the empty net to make the final score 5-0.
Canada’s defence was stellar in this one, shutting down many Russian zone entries. They kept Russia to the outside, limiting dangerous scoring opportunities. As a unit, the Canadian defence has continued to get stronger as the tournament has gone on, part of the reason their skilled opponents aren’t scoring. Their play will be a key factor against the United States.
The other part of the few goals against in this tournament is Devon Levi. Canada’s goaltender continues to be fantastic and a vital part of his team’s success. Even with the increased workload against these more skilled teams, Levi has continued to be outstanding. He now has three shutouts in this tournament, tying Justin Pogge (Canada, 2006) for most shutouts at the World Juniors. Three is also the number of goals scored against Levi in the six games he’s played at the tournament.
They’ve made it to the end, Canada will now play the United States on Tuesday night for gold. This is their game to lose. No team thus far has been able to compete with Canada at their best. They haven’t had a single goal scored against them at even strength in the tournament. This game will also decide the winner of the tournament scoring race between Cozens and USA’s Trevor Zegras. Two Florida Panthers prospects will battle between the pipes with Levi (7th Round, 2020) for Canada and Spencer Knight (1st Round, 2019) for the USA. If Canada can stick to their game, the USA will have a very difficult time against them.
Mikayla’s Players of the Game
1 G, 1 A, 2 Points, 4 SOG
On the ice for four of Canada’s goals, Schneider made a huge impact at both ends of the rink. The defenceman got a late start to the tournament after being ejected in game one and then suspended for game two but he’s shown his skill since his return. Against Russia, Schneider was physical and did a fantastic job keeping the puck away from high danger zones. He displayed his hard shot as put one past Askarov. He was drafted 19th overall by the New York Rangers in 2020.
0 G, 0 A, 0 Points, 3 SOG
Mukhamadullin, drafted 20th overall by the New Jersey Devils in 2020, is a big and strong player with a fantastic skating ability. Even as a defenceman, Mukhamadullin gets pucks to the net for scoring opportunities, something that is key to a team’s offensive success. He had three shots on goal in this game, the second most by a Russian defenceman. His rocket of a shot will only improve as he gets stronger in the coming years. Mukhamadullin is eligible to return to the tournament next year and Russia will look to him to play a big role.