On New Year’s Eve, Canada rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the United States in a shootout in a pool-play game at the World Junior Championships in Saskatoon, Sakatchewan. On Tuesday night, the teams meet again in the championship game. Canada is the five-team defending champion. A handful of WCHA players are with the U.S. team including Matt Donovan of Denver, Jordan Schroeder of Minnesota, Danny Kristo of North Dakota, Mike Lee of St. Cloud State and Derek Stepan, John Ramage and Jake Gardiner of Wisconsin. The Americans are coached by International Falls native Dean Blais, in his first season with Nebraska-Omaha. (The official World Junior Championships Web site has Schroeder listed as from Minnesota Duluth.) Here’s a preview courtesy of The Sports Network. The game will be on the NHL Network and streamed on Fasthockey.com at 6:30 p.m.:
From TSN.CA Staff
It was a game so nice, they’ll play it twice.
Canada goes in search of a sixth straight gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championship on Tuesday when they take on the United States in a rematch of the New Year’s Eve classic.
The bronze medal game is between Sweden and Switzerland at 3 p.m.
In their last battle, Canada rallied from a 4-2 third-period deficit to earn a 5-4 shootout victory and American defenseman Cam Fowler knows they must play the full 60 minutes to win a gold medal.
"That New Year’s Eve game was a bit of a shock for us," said the Windsor Spitfires player. "We thought we played a great game and just fell apart in the last 10 minutes. I think we want it just as bad as the Canadians do."
Canada is coming off a hard-fought 6-1 victory over Switzerland in a semifinal game where the score was not indicative of the play. In the other semifinal, the Americans broke open a tight game with three third-period goals en route to a 5-2 win over favored Sweden.
Defenseman Travis Hamonic, one half of Canada’s shutdown pairing with Marco Scandella, won’t play in the gold medal game after suffering a separated shoulder as a result of a questionable hit late in the semifinal win.
"Travis is such a great kid," said Canada assistant coach Dave Cameron. "To work hard to get here and to be such a big part of it and then to have his moment of glory and the gold medal game be taken away on a bad hit, you feel really, really bad for the kid."
Alex Pietrangelo will take Hamonic’s spot alongside Scandella and likely draw the task of shutting down American captain Derek Stepan, who leads the tournament with 12 points. Jared Cowen, who struggled against the United States in the first game and did not see the ice at all in Sunday’s semifinal, is expected to be slotted in as the sixth defenseman while forward Brandon McMillan may also play some minutes on the blueline.
Jordan Eberle leads Canada in scoring with six goals and 11 points while Taylor Hall has showcased his immense skills, scoring five goals and adding four assists. Pietrangelo has also put up 11 points.
Canada has used the power play to their advantage throughout the tournament, clicking on almost 38 percent of its chances. But in the first game against the Americans, they failed to score on six occasions with the man advantage.
Actually, it was the United States that capitalized on Canada’s power plays, scoring two shorthanded goals but U.S. coach Dean Blais knows they can’t expect that to happen again.
"We took six penalties against them," Blais told the Canadian Press. "That’s too many because more than likely they’ll get a couple (of power-play goals) this next round."
Blais’ team is no slouch on special teams either, connecting on eight of 28 power play opportunities and scoring three shorthanded goals.
"It’s a big-time weapon," said TSN’s Bob McKenzie. "They’ve got all the elements that go with penalty killing and speed is certainly one of them."
"The gold medal is going to come down to special teams and discipline is going to be a factor."
Goalie Jake Allen opened the tournament with two straight shutouts for Canada and was outstanding in the preliminary round win over the Americans. He has only allowed five goals with four coming in the New Year’s Eve game.
Jack Campbell stopped 30 of 34 shots for the Americans in the New Year’s Eve loss but Mike Lee has started both playoff round wins and will likely play Tuesday.
Canada has defeated the Americans six straight times but the last team to win the gold medal before Canada’s current run was the U.S. In 2004, Canadian goalie Marc-Andre Fleury’s clearing attempt late in the game hit his own defenseman and bounced into the net for the winning goal in a 4-3 loss. It was the first world junior title for the Americans.
Notes: More than 3.3 million Canadians watched TSN’s coverage of the Canada-United States shootout game on New Year’s Eve – making it the most-watched preliminary round game ever and TSN’s fourth most-watched program of all-time… The only other time Canada has faced USA in the gold medal game, head coach Mike Babcock led Team Canada to a 2-0 victory in 1997 for their fifth straight gold medal.