World Junior Postgame: Gold Rush

Canada. Russia. Whenever these two teams meet, magic seems to follow. And boy was tonight magical – a star-studded Canadian side facing off against a very underrated Russian group with a hot goalie.

A perfectly set stage.

The Rundown

Jousting off of the opening face-off. Both Domi and Duclair, on the wings of Sam Reinhart, dictating the tone early. But not just through physical intimidation, but with a goal 23 seconds in. Truly a blistering start, one of which Canada – or Russia – couldn’t have fathomed.

The pace is fast, largely dictated by Canada. Another goal, this time tapped in by Nick Paul off of a great feed by Jake Virtanen. 2-0 Canada, 2:32 into the first period. The energy is high, the crowd is buzzing, and Canada is flying. The Russians have to do something, so coach Valeri Bragin pulls Igor Shesterkin, who was phenomenal all tournament long until this point.

New goalie, new energy.

Canada keeps up the pressure, and Ilya Sorokin makes some big saves right off the bat. And then at just about the halfway mark of the period, Dmitri Yudin fires a rocket top corner just on top of the face-off circle. At this point, this is tweeted out:

Worth keeping in mind.

The first ends 2-1 in favour of Canada.

Five minutes into the 2nd, Connor McDavid puts it through Sorokin’s five hole on the breakaway. 3-1.

Two minutes later, Max Domi scores. 4-1.

Five minutes later, Sam Reinhart tips home a Max Domie shot. 5-1.

Driver’s seat. Fully in command. But this is hockey. And furthermore, this is hockey being played in the Air Canada Centre.

Two minutes later, Ivan Barbashev scores on the power play. 5-2.

Thirty seconds later, Sergei Tolchinsky puts home a great feed from Nikolay Goldobin. 5-3.

Two and a half minutes later, Goldobin puts one of his own home on the power play. 5-4.

The second period ends – one of the greatest periods of hockey you will ever see. Two huge momentum swings, two entirely different storylines played out in one period.

Russia rides that wave in the third. After a mediocre power play, they go to work 5-on-5. Canada on their heels all period long, other than the odd chance that Sorokin robs Canada of.

Two minutes left, Russia pulls their goalie. Both teams battling, competing, fighting. Frantic moments in the zone.

Time expires.

Ecstasy.

Maple Warrior

Could give it to a lot of players, but Darnell Nurse had an incredible game – and a phenomenal third period. In fact, Nurse and Shea Theodore were not on the ice for a single even-strength goal against all tournament. Absolutely incredible.

Bronze Medal

Earlier in the day, Slovakia and Sweden faced off for the Bronze medal, and the game story was somewhat similar. Slovakia came out firing, with two goals in the first 3:22. Sweden would respond with goals from Nylander and Lööke to even it up at 2. A scoreless 2nd, but Skalicky scores three minutes into the third off a great feed by Reway on the power play. After a few chances for Sweden with the net empty, Reway would selflessly pass the puck to Koys who put it in the empty net and iced it for Slovakia.

A really surprising defeat for Sweden, who up until yesterday seemed to be right with Canada as one of the tournament’s elite teams. For Slovakia, it’s their second ever medal at the World Juniors, this one due in large part to the play of Denis Godla.

All-Star Team

At the end of the second period of the Gold Medal game, the All-Star team, as voted on by media, was announced. Here are the players:

Goalie: Denis Godla (SKA)
Defense: Gustav Forsling (SWE, VAN Prospect)
Defense: Josh Morrissey (CAN, WPG Prospect)
Forward: Sam Reinhart (CAN, BUF Prospect)
Forward: Max Domi (CAN, ARI Prospect)
Forward: Connor McDavid (CAN, 2015 Eligible)

Godla, Morrissey, and Domi were named the top players at each of their positions after the Gold Medal game, and the tournament MVP was also given to Godla.

See You Next Year

What a tournament. Next year’s World Juniors will be held in Helsinki, Finland. The groups will look like this:

GROUP A

Canada
Sweden
USA
Denmark
Switzerland

GROUP B

Russia
Slovakia
Czech Republic
Finland
Belarus (promoted with Germany’s relegation)

Notes

  • Guy Lafleur

    If McDavid comes to this waste land of ineptitude and development he can join top talents like Yak , Marincin , gagner , Lander and Leon as busts.

    Hopefully Nurse is so good and has not been developed the “Oiler” way that he will be too good for even the ‘Oiler” way to screw him up .

  • Guy Lafleur

    Wow, I didn’t watch any of the tournament, but the fact that Forsling was the only non-Canadian skater named an MVP is encouraging to me as a Canucks fan. Hopefully it’s not all smoke and mirrors.

  • Poluza

    That has to be the loudest crowd in recent memory at the ACC. I honestly believe that if it wasn’t for the constant cheering, the outcome might have been different…

  • CMG30

    Nurse was not on the ice for a single goal against all tournament? That’s crazy awesome!

    I think this reopens the questions about the selection process of the team last year. Nurse not invited and Canada loses…

  • CMG30

    Congratulations to our junior team.
    At least Curtis Lazar goes back to the NHL.
    Most of the others go back to their major junior club.In the west they will continue to play the 72 game program, practice a lot,use buses anywhere from Brandon to Portland.
    They get board and room and an ALLOWANCE of maybe around $100.00 a week.Many may be attempting to finish highschool.
    These players participated in a World Championship earning some $25,000,000.00.
    Our Team won but is there something wrong with this
    picture??

    • CMG30

      I get the complaints that a growing number of people are voicing that junior kids barely make any money while some owners do very well.

      But I think there is a much bigger problem in junior hockey, and that is how much it dominates the lives of these young boys.

      These kids don’t need more money, they need more balance. They need less travel, and less hockey.

      They need to be better prepared for the fact that most of them are going to have to live normal lives as people who don’t get paid to play a game for a living.

      • Guy Lafleur

        Rich teams buying championships , Kelowna and Portland . I guess the same argumnet can be made for US college football where teams like Michigan draw a 100, 000 a game and the players get jack squat .

  • Mantastic

    Congrats to Team Canada!!! That was an incredible game and whatta-Tournament that Canada played!!!! Its too bad that this is not the way the NHL p[lays all season long…especially my Oilers!!!…lol.

    The kids played so awesome in this year’s tournament and I can easily see why MacDavid is going to go #1 or #2 in the draft. Kudos and honours to all the kids on this team, especially to Domi, Petan, Lazar, Reinhart, and Duclair.

    I want to say that I really enjoyed watching that kid goalie Godla play for the Slovaks as well cause he played awesome in this tournament.

    As an Oiler fan, it was also excellent to watch Darnel Nurse play world junior all-star type hockey, especially in this final game. In fact, I would have to say he deserves at least second all-star line status for the tournament.

    The Oilers finally have a top 1 or 2 pairing defenceman on the horizon!!!!

  • Britts94

    I hate how the fans booed the refs. They did a bang up job all tourney. They are human, they might make mistakes, but I can’t name one that I saw in the whole tournament. Those eight officials in the medal games worked their asses off to get to that point in their careers, and all they get is an obnoxious round of boos for their committment to the game. Unbelievable.