Wednesday may have been the most exciting slate of games in the World Junior Championship to date. A long standing rivalry stood once again between the United States and Russia. While the US beat the Russians earlier in group play, they had never come out on top in seven matchups in the medal round. Canada and Sweden, the host country and the winner of Group A who had been dominating teams, both had so much on the line. Both games were fantastic, but in the end, only two can play to win the whole shebang. With that, take a look at what happened.
Canada 5 - Sweden 2
Sometimes, a goaltending change can swing momentum for a team and for Canada, it did absolute wonders. Connor Ingram started the game in net, but after giving up two goals, one to Joel Eriksson Ek and one to Carl Grundstrom right after the Canadians tied it, Carter Hart found his way to the blue paint. He absolutely stood on his head and let Canada come back in this one, with goals from Anthony Cirelli, Dylan Strome and two from Julian Gauthier. Le Centre Bell rocked once again, as they knew they were onto the gold medal match, with Carter Hart already confirmed in net, against the winner of the game prior...
United States 4 - Russia 3 (SO)
This may have been the absolutely most exciting game of the tournament so far. Potent offenses, back and forth, an insane overtime, no winner after the mandatory five round shootout, a controversy about whether it should have been a five round or three round shootout, and a TJ Oshie moment for one college kid. After going down 1-0 thanks to Russian leading scorer Kirill Kaprizov, Colin White’s behind deflected a goal line Clayton Keller shot past Ilya Samsonov. Russia got the lead early in the second on a rebound slam dunk by Denis Guryanov, but the USA crawled back. Luke Kunin deflected a Jordan Greenway pass on the man advantage and another White goal gave America its first lead. Keller got hauled down on a breakaway, got a penalty shot chance, but was denied by Samsonov’s glove. Moments later, Guryanov capitalized on his own breakaway chance, tying the game. Both teams got stellar looks in the 10 minute overtime, but it would go to the dreaded shootout. Somehow, that was just as exciting as the rest of game play, Russia going on top and its players thinking they had won after the third round. Both coaches knew it was five rounds, and Jeremy Bracco tied it when the US needed it. Denver University product Troy Terry took over once and for all, going 3 for 3, his final shot giving the USA a chance to win its first gold medal since 2013.
That was long, but honestly, the game was too exciting and jam packed. Here’s how the bracket looks going into the final day of WJC play.
Canada. United States. The battle for North American bragging rights played in the one of the birthplaces of hockey. Buckle up, it’s gonna be one hell of a ride.