GAME NOTES: Canada vs. Russia (May 6)
TV: TSN | Stream: TSN Direct
Two nations are left standing, and you can’t deny that their places in the
final aren’t warranted.
Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team is set to contest the gold medal at the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championship on
Thursday against Russia in a highly-anticipated final between the
tournament’s two most-potent attacks.
Canada hasn’t claimed a medal at the U18 worlds since 2015, but that will
change tonight. However, the question remains: will it be a first gold
Connor McDavid led Canada to victory eight years ago, or will Russia break up the perfect tournament and force it to settle for
Canada moved into the gold medal game with
an 8-1 semifinal win over Sweden that was much closer than the final score indicated. The game was scoreless
after one period and Canada held a narrow 2-1 edge through two before
exploding for six goals in the final 20 minutes.
Two days after posting five points in a quarterfinal win over the Czech Republic, Connor Bedard added another three goals to his
total. Shane Wright added a goal and three assists for the Canadians, who
outshot the Swedes 29-3 in the third period.
Russia survived a wild opening 10 minutes that included four goals and a
missed penalty shot, and then an even wilder finish to edge Finland 6-5 and
advance to face the Canadians. Nikita Chibrikov scored twice and Ivan
Miroshnichenko added a pair of goals in the third period for the Russians,
who outshot the Finns 38-24 but were pushed to the final minutes.
Amazingly, Canada and Russia have not met at the tournament since 2014,
when they were matched up in Group A during the preliminary round in
Travis Konecny and Mat Barzal scored to give Canada a pair of one-goal
leads, but a last-minute Russian equalizer from Vladislav Kamenev forced
extra time. After overtime failed to produce a winner, Kirill Pilipenko
scored the lone goal in the shootout, beating Canadian goaltender Mason
give the Russians a 3-2 victory.
WHAT TO WATCH
Scoring. Special teams. Goaltending. The tournament’s two most prolific
entries are on a collision course in the gold medal game. Canada and Russia
rank in the top two offensively for shooting percentage, power-play
efficiency and save percentage, with both attacks having the ability all on
their own to win gold.
At the forefront will be the lights-out trio of Bedard, Wright and Matvei
Michkov. Bedard has eight points (5G 3A) in his last two games and sits
just two points back of McDavid’s mark for points by a 15-year-old (14),
Wright is a one point behind Bedard and has scored in all four games he has
played, and Michkov has racked up a tournament-leading 11 goals and 13
points in six games. The craziest part? None of the three are NHL draft
eligible this season.
Between the pipes, Benjamin Gaudreau has seized the Canadian crease with
four wins in as many starts to go along with a 2.00 goals-against average
and .922 save percentage, while Sergei Ivanov has been the workhorse in the
Russia net, playing every second of the last five games and posting a 2.36
GAA and .920 save percentage.
Which nation will earn the final ‘W’? Anticipate a thrilling conclusion in
A LOOK BACK
The head-to-head series is tight; Russia holds a narrow 6-5 advantage, with
the teams having alternated victories in the last six meetings, dating back
This is just the fourth time the long-time rivals have met in the
semifinals or later at U18 worlds; Russia earned a 5-2 semifinal win in
won bronze with a 6-4 victory in 2011, but Jordan Eberle scored twice in a five-goal first period and
Canada romped to an 8-0 win in the gold medal game in 2008.
All-time record: Russia leads 6-5 (1-0 in OT/SO)
Canada goals: 44
Russia goals: 40