Two of hockey’s oldest rivals clashed in the gold medal game at the world junior championships Monday night. This was one of the most exciting world junior games to watch, in which the home-side Canadians defeated the Russians 5-4.
Team Canada exploded at the start with a game with forward Anthony Duclair scoring a goal just 23 seconds into the game. Nick Paul added to that lead shortly after, which forced the Russians to make the drastic decision to pull starting goalie Igor Shestyorkin.
But that move didn’t stop the surging Canadians from scoring. Connor McDavid, Sam Reinhart and Max Domi all scored goals. But the Russians never gave up, they continued to use their speed and put pressure on the Canadians.
They were rewarded for their efforts as the game went on, scoring one late in the first period and another three unanswered goals to cut the lead to one late in the game.
But thanks to a sensational performance by Canadian goalie Zach Fucale, Canada was able to hang on to win the gold medal. Fucale was bombarded with shots all throughout the game and was able to keep his composure late in the game to carry Canada to victory.
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Depth and Consistency
This was a fantastic tournament for Team Canada. The reason this team has been so successful in this tournament is because of the depth within their roster. All the players that were expected to perform did just that. Guys like Domi, Petan, McDavid and Reinhart have scored goals or tallied assists consistently throughout the tournament.
These three guys all ended the tournament with 11 points. Captain Curtis Lazar, Robbie Fabbri and Anthony Duclair provided secondary scoring at key points throughout the tournament to take the pressure off the top line. This was a well-balanced roster that believed in their coach’s philosophy, were energized from the home fans every game and played to their strengths.
The defensemen Darnell Nurse and Josh Morrissey and goalie Fucale were the defensive anchors for team Canada all throughout the tournament. Nurse and Morriessey did a wonderful job frustrating their opponents, winning puck battles and throwing their weight around to change the momentum of each game.
Fucale ended the gold medal game with 26 saves, had an overall save percentage of .939 and a well deserved gold medal. This guy never lost his composure, never blamed his defensemen for any mistakes and bailed out his team on several occasions throughout the tournament. He was very quick to praise his teammates in the gold medal victory celabration.
With this victory Canada ends a two year medal drought and claims their first gold medal since 2009. This was an impressive victory for Canada and I can’t wait to see where some of these guys will end up as a result of their performance in this tournament.