Led by California ties, Team USA captures World Junior gold after shutting out Canada
The U.S. National Junior Team, behind 34 saves from Spencer Knight and goals from Anaheim Ducks prospect Trevor Zegras and Los Angeles Kings prospect Alex Turcotte, beat Canada 2-0 Tuesday night in Edmonton in the gold medal game of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship.
It was the fifth gold medal for the United States in the tournament and the fifth time in the last six years that Team USA has medaled in the event, the best medal stretch in the nation’s history.
“I’m very proud of this group of guys,” said U.S. coach Nate Leaman. “We really came together as a team over the course of this tournament. We played a great Canadian team today and we’re very fortunate to have beat them. I’m proud of how this team played together. This will be a memory they have forever.”
Canada outshot the United States 34-21.
Team USA scored the only goal of the opening period at 12:25 when Turcotte deflected one home off Drew Helleson’s (former L.A. Jr. King) shot from the far right point.
Zegras, named the MVP of the tournament after leading all players with 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists), staked the U.S. to a 2-0 lead just 32 seconds into the second period when he took the carom off the end boards of an Arthur Kaliyev shot that went wide and backhanded it in at the right side of the goal.
Knight stood tall in the third period, stopping all 15 shots Canada put on goal, including several point-blank chances. It was the third shutout for Knight in the tournament and the fourth for Team USA.
Tonight’s shutout is the first shutout in a medal-round game in U.S. history, while Knight set the U.S. record for most shutouts in a World Junior tournament and career (3) and Team USA is the first team since 2012 to record a shutout in a gold medal game, when Sweden defeated Russia 1-0.
This is also the first shutout in a “playoff round” game at World Juniors since 2016 when the U.S. defeated Czech Republic 7-0. The shutout sets a U.S. record for most team shutouts in a tournament (4).
Team USA boasted six players with California connections, including captain Cam York (Anaheim Hills, pictured), forward Brendan Brisson (Manhattan Beach), defensemen Ryan Johnson (Irvine), Jackson LaCombe (Jr. Kings) and Helleson, and goaltender Dustin Wolf (Gilroy).
(Jan. 5, 2021)