Trevor Zegras #9, Alex Turcotte #15 and Drew Helleson #2 celebrate a goal against Canada during the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship gold medal game on Jan. 5, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada.
From the moment it hit the ice for evaluation camp back in October, to the final horn of its gold medal victory Tuesday evening, the U.S. National Junior Team preached one message: Set a gold medal standard.
They did that and more in topping Canada 2-0 to win the fifth World Junior Championship in U.S. history, tying Finland for third-most all time. Alex Turcotte opened the scoring, on a deft deflection in the first period. Trevor Zegras then added another early in the second period, gathering a rebound and using his quick hands to tuck it home. Zegras also assisted on Turcotte’s goal to tie Jordan Schroeder’s record of 27 career points at World Juniors. Goalie Spencer Knight got his third shutout of the tournament, most at a single World Juniors in U.S. history, with 33 saves.
Even with no fans in the stands at Edmonton, Alberta’s Rogers Place as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, beating Canada in Canada is no small feat, particularly a Canada team that had allowed just four goals all tournament. The U.S. also had played an emotional, hard-fought semifinal against Finland the night prior. But it was the U.S. that looked energetic, consistently winning puck battles and turning away Canada’s attempts to come back. Knight was solid in net all night, particularly in the third period when the U.S. was outshot 15-1.
After a setback to Russia in the opening game, Team USA was right there with the hometown team the rest of the tournament, finishing second to Canada in goals scored and allowed. Both teams were loaded with talent, with 19 NHL first-round draft picks on Canada and nine on Team USA. The U.S. has had good luck in World Juniors gold-medal games against Canada, now holding a 4-1 advantage.