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U.S. beats Canada 2-0 to win world junior hockey championship

Associated Press

Edmonton, Alberta — Spencer Knight made 34 saves in another shutout and the United States upset Canada 2-0 on Tuesday night to win the world junior hockey championship.

Trevor Zegras had a goal and an assist, and Alex Turcotte also scored as the U.S. won its first gold medal at the tournament since 2017. Team USA players poured over the bench when the buzzer sounded, tossing sticks and gloves aloft in a mostly empty Rogers Place. The event was played with no fans in the stands to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

U.S. players celebrate a win over Canada in the championship game in the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, Tuesday, in Edmonton, Alberta.

The Canadians were undefeated at the tournament and hadn’t trailed at any point coming into the game. They were aiming to repeat as gold-medal winners, but had to settle for silver on home ice.

The U.S., which finished sixth in 2020, won six straight games to capture its fifth under-20 title following a round-robin loss to Russia on opening day.

The Americans improved to 4-1 all-time against Canada when going head-to-head for gold at the tournament.

Finland defeated Russia 4-1 earlier Tuesday to win bronze.

Knight, a 2019 top draft pick by the Florida Panthers, earned his third shutout of the tournament, tying the record set by Canada’s Devon Levi this year and Justin Pogge in 2006.

Zegras, a first-round draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2019, was the top scorer in the tournament (seven goals, 11 assists).

Knight was spectacular at times, particularly when the Canadians stormed and buzzed the net late in the second period and came in waves in the third.

He stoned Connor McMichael on a breakaway with three minutes left, prompting the Canadian player to slam his stick on the glass in frustration.

Levi made 19 saves in the loss.

Canadian forward Dylan Cozens, tied with Zegras in tournament scoring heading into the final, finished as Canada’s top point-getter with eight goals and eight assists.

The U.S. lost its tournament opener 5-3 to Russia before running the table, outscoring opponents 36-10.

Canada had been absolutely dominant, outscoring opponents 41-4 heading into the gold-medal game.

The players battled to a continuous hum of canned crowd noise throughout the game, including ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ on hard shots and great saves.

Rogers Place, home to the Edmonton Oilers, was otherwise empty except for hockey officials, media, rink and support staff.

The game featured two Florida draft picks in net: Levi, a seventh-round pick in 2020, and Knight.

The U.S. forechecked ferociously in the first period, outshot Canada 13-9 and opened the scoring at 13:25 when Turcotte deflected Drew Helleson’s point shot up and over Levi’s glove.

To that point, Canada had never trailed in the tournament.

The U.S. took a 2-0 lead just 32 seconds into the second. Arther Kaliyev fired the puck past the net. Zegras grabbed it off the end boards and tucked it in on the short side while Levi, expecting the puck to come out the other side, was moving in the opposite direction to cover the far post.

The Americans held off Canada in the third to preserve the victory.

In the earlier game, Anton Lundell had two goals to help Finland win the bronze medal.

Mikko Petman and Juuso Parssinen also scored for Finland, and Kari Piroinen made 29 saves.

Ilya Safonov had the lone goal for Russia. Yaroslav Askarov stopped 28 of 30 shots.

In a later start, the United States played Canada for the gold medal. Canada was attempting to repeat as tournament champions. The Americans placed sixth in 2020.

It’s just the second time in 11 tournaments that Russia – which last won gold in 2011 and grabbed silver last year – will finish off the podium.

Finland lost the bronze-medal game to Sweden last year after winning gold in 2019.

Safonov tucked in a rebound 6:03 in to open the scoring.

Lundell, the Finland captain, deflected a point shot from the top of the crease 5:05 into the second to tie it.

Another tipped goal, this time twice and eventually credited to Petman, gave Finland its first leadless than two minutes into the third period.

Russia captain Vasili Podkolzin took a four-minute penalty for cutting Finnish forward Matias Mantykivi with a high stick with 6:45 remaining. Russia, however, killed off the extended Finnish power play and pushed for the tie.

Lundell and Parssinen secured the victory for Finland with empty-net goals.