Flames prospects won a medal of every colour at this year’s World Junior Championship, culminating with Dillon Dube winning gold as Team Canada’s captain. Linus Lindstrom had an impact in a tight gold-medal game for Sweden, registering an assist and Adam Fox finished his tournament with a bronze medal, though he was held scoreless.
United States beats Czech Republic 9-3
(This writeup brought to you by Ari.)
When the Czechs beat the Finns in the quarterfinals, it was considered an upset. And considering how the Finns pelted the net with over 50 shots, only to still be knocked out due to an impressive performance, well, that would justify that claim. Since then, though, the Czechs have pretty much been beaten into the ground – and this time, it laid the path for an easy bronze medal for Fox and the United States.
Fox played 20:51 in his final game of the 2018 World Juniors, third in American defencemen ice time. He played 7:50 in the first period, the most out of all Americans, but that was back when the game’s result might still have been in question (the scoring didn’t open until the final seconds of the period). It quickly turned into a rout after that, hence less need for Fox.
Despite the goal explosion, Fox had no points (there were only three assists across all defencemen, however), though he was on the ice for three American goals, and not out there for any Czech goals against.
Fox finished the tournament with one goal and five points over seven games, the American’s highest-scoring defenceman, and tied for fifth overall. His 20 shots on net were the most out of all American defencemen, and tied for fourth team-wide.
Canada beats Sweden 3-1
In terms of lines, Lindstrom played with Canuck stud prospect Elias Petterson at even strength and on the power play and New Jersey Devils second rounder Jesper Boqvist. As has been the case all tournament, Dube played on Canada’s top line, with Sam Steel and Jordan Kyrou. Both Dube and Lindstrom were used in all situations by their teams, including power plays and killing penalties.
Dube’s first action of the game came on an early Canada power play where he was able to get two pretty dangerous looks near the slot. Significantly, with seven minutes to play in the first period, a relatively short whistle robbed Dube of opening the scoring for Canada. Other than that, not a lot happened in the first for either team. Both Sweden and Canada looked a little frantic at times and neither team was able to generate a ton of high-quality chances. However, Canada was outshot 16-9 and Carter Hart looked solid in the opening frame.
Early in the second Dube put Canada in front with a fantastic goal. With Timothy Liljegren practically inside his jersey, Dube buried a slick feed from Kyrou and put the Swedes behind for the first time in the tournament. Have a look here:
There should be an emoji for something so beautiful that words cannot describe it, for example Dillon Dube's goal: pic.twitter.com/6jhIubw6fg
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) January 6, 2018
However, as has been their calling card this tournament, the Swedes tied the game at one on a shorthanded goal off an odd-man rush. Lindstrom got the primary assist on Tim Soderlund’s goal with a smooth zone entry and nice pass, despite (maybe) running some interference on the Canadian defender. Following the Dube goal, the balance of play shifted to Sweden and Canada missed an opportunity to step on their throats.
Here’s a look at the Sweden goal, Lindstrom is the player with the puck in the start of the gif:
Another shorthanded goal for Sweden, this time it’s Tim Soderlund. 1-1 pic.twitter.com/NPkziLnJiX
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 6, 2018
The second period ended tied at one, with Dube leading all Canadian forwards in ice time and shots. Sweden out shot Canada 25-18 through two periods and, as such, Carter Hart was easily Canada’s best player heading into the third.
Sweden came out flying to start the third, getting six of the first seven shots and hitting a post on a point shot. Canada managed to weather the storm and keep the game tied. After both teams hit the post in the third, Canada got a late goal from Tyler Steenbergen to put them in front for good. Unfortunately, the game winner went right through Lindstrom’s legs. Canada added an empty netter and were crowned 2018 World Junior Champions.
Overall, Lindstrom’s cerebral play and ability in the faceoff circle were noticeable in addition to the fact that he played in every situation for Sweden. Lindstrom finished the game with an assist, -2, 16:48 of ice time, and one shot on net. He finished his tournament with three assists, tied for ninth in team scoring. His 11 shots were good for tied for 11th on the team.
For my money, Dube was Canada’s best forward of the night, playing in all situations as well. Dube finished the game with a goal, five shots, even, and 20:30 of ice time (the most of any Canadian forward). His skating and forechecking have been well-publicized before, but I thought his ability to make skilled plays in tight spaces was on display tonight, rounding out a very impressive tournament for Canada’s captain. Fans of Dustin Boyd will remind fans to reign in expectations, but Dillon Dube has certainly impressed in front of a lot of eyeballs this holiday season.
Dube finished his tournament with three goals and five points, tied for ninth in team scoring, while his 30 shots led Team Canada by a fair margin: the Canadian with the second most shots was Drake Batherson, with 19. Dube’s 123:36 was the most any Canadian forward played over the course of the entire World Juniors. And it sure feels like there are bigger things for him right on the horizon.