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.
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:
Who pumps their crest at the opposing bench when you ARE STILL LOSING WITH OVER 50 MINUTES LEFT IN THE GAME?
— Justin Fisher (@thejustinfisher) January 6, 2015
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.
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.
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.
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:
Belarus (promoted with Germany’s relegation)
most impressive performance tonight was me on twitter if u ask me. and if they are giving things to the refs i should get a gold medal too
— future MSM member (@bobbycappucino) January 6, 2015