The United States won the World Junior Championship, upsetting Canada in the finals, 2-0. Nate Leaman’s side was a massive underdog against the Habs, but eventually played a perfect game to reach the gold medal in Edmonton.
This was the fourth time the US team defeated Canada in the title-match, but never before were they such underdogs. However, they used the fact that the pressure on the hosts was too big, and with a phenomenal defensive effort clinched yet another junior championship title, fifth overall.
Spencer Knight is the guy who needs to be credited the most for tonight’s win, as the Florida Panthers’ prospect built a wall in front of his net, stopping the rivals’ all 34 shots.
On the other side, the US team scored goals in the best possible moments, midway through the first and early on in the second period.
Alex Turcotte brought the lead to the Americans at 13:25 of the opening frame, putting Canada behind for the first time during this tournament. It was something unexpected for the Habs, who were outshot in that period 13 to 9.
With 32 seconds into the second period, Trevor Zegras, the No.1 weapon of the Americans and the tournament’s top scorer, doubled the lead, extending the panic among the hosts. This was Zegras’ 18th point in this championship, the second-most by any American player. He would also finish atop the scoring list.
From that moment on, Spencer was in the middle of the attention. He would stop 25 shots, frustrating Canada’s players while additionally boosting the morale of his teammates. It is interesting that Canada outshot the United States 15 to 1 in the last frame, and that is when Spencer’s role proved to be vital.
This was his third shutout in this tournament, the most any US goalie had, with the opening two coming in the group stage.
The Americans didn’t start the World Junior Championship well, losing to Russia in the first game 5-3. At that point, just a few believed that Leaman’s crew is capable of reaching the gold medal. However, they bounced back with two straight wins without a goal conceded vs. the Czech Republic and Sweden. After that, Team USA eliminated Slovakia and Finland in the knockout stage before beating Canada, who demolished Russia in the semis, 5-0.
The 2022 World Juniors Championship takes place also in Canada – Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta.