The United States won the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship with a 2-0 victory against Canada at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Tuesday.
Spencer Knight (Florida Panthers) made 34 saves for his third shutout to set U.S. WJC career and single-tournament records.
“No one person can win a game on their own, and our whole team battled so hard,” Knight said. “We battled so hard from start to finish, and every time we went into the locker room, we had so much new energy going and I was so proud of the guys. We stuck to our game plan, played hard, played selfless, and that’s the key.
“… I played with so many of these guys for so long and we battled so hard, and it feels so good.”
It was the first shutout by the United States in the semifinal round or championship game in its history.
Trevor Zegras (Anaheim Ducks) had a goal and an assist, and Alex Turcotte (Los Angeles Kings) scored for the United States, which won the WJC for the fifth time, four of those titles coming with a win against Canada in the championship game (also 2004, 2010, 2017).
Devon Levi (Panthers) made 19 saves for Canada, which defeated Russia 4-3 in the 2020 championship game. Levi entered the game having allowed three goals on 118 shots in six straight wins, including consecutive shutouts against the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals and Russia in the semifinals.
Canada was hoping to become the first team to win back-to-back championships since it won the last of five straight in 2009.
Knight made the save against Connor McMichael (Washington Capitals) on a breakaway at 16:55 of the third period and on Connor Zary (Calgary Flames) on a wraparound at the right post less than a minute later.
“Going into the third, we have to believe we’re going to tie the game,” Canada forward Dylan Cozens (Buffalo Sabres) said. “We had our looks, and Knight played great, stopped lots of pucks, but we had our looks, just didn’t get the bounces.”
Turcotte gave the United States a 1-0 lead when he scored on a tip-in from the slot of a shot taken from the right point by Drew Helleson (Colorado Avalanche) at 13:25 into the first period. It was the first even-strength goal allowed by Canada and the first time the host country trailed in the tournament.
“We were sticking to what worked, being hard on their defense, being physical with them down low, and that was our game plan,” Turcotte said. “I think we were really good on the forecheck, and that created a lot of space for us. We were getting greasy ones around the net, and it worked out.”
Zegras made it 2-0 when he jammed the puck past an unsuspecting Levi at the left post 32 seconds into the second period.
Selected by Anaheim with the No. 9 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, Zegras led the tournament with 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in seven games.
“We have such a great team, it made my job so easy,” he said. “I can pretty much give [the puck] to any of these guys, and it’ll end up in the back of the net, so I really loved how we came together in such a short time and obviously it speaks for itself what we did.”
Zegras ranks second on the U.S. all-time list for points in a single WJC (Doug Weight, 19 points, 1991) and second on the single-tournament assists list (Weight, 14, 1991). The 19-year-old also is tied for most career points (27, 12 games) with Jordan Schroeder (19 games, 2008-10) and career assists (Schroeder, 20).
Canada had 19 first-round NHL Draft picks on its roster, and the United States had nine.