In the most anticipated rematch of the the 2021 World Juniors, Team Canada and Team Russia met in a rematch of last year’s gold medal game, with a spot in the final on the line.
Russia got into the offensive zone first, but the Canadians counterattacked, causing mayhem in the offensive zone. 51 seconds in, the newly returned Alex Newhook rifled the puck at the net. The puck hit the bar at the back of the net and flew out again so quickly that play continued. However, they did catch it and review it for a good goal.
Team Canada kept the pressure on after that, and immediately forced Yaroslav Askarov to make a save.
The play evened out after that, Russia getting their share of chances before the game hit the five-minute mark. Kaiden Guhle made a pair of excellent defensive plays backing into the zone, twice taking the puck away from the Russian forwards, and then sending the play up the ice.
Braden Schneider skimmed the puck off the outside of the netting, narrowly missing giving Canada the two goal lead, but then Askarov lost his stick, and Connor McMichael scored on Canada’s ninth shot.
In general, the Canadians were better at getting to the puck, and at intercepting it when Russia tried tried to get anything going. Askarov’s focus seemed to be struggling, making some questionable choices of play, and things didn’t get better for the Russians in the period. Captain Vasili Podkolzin took four minute high-sticking penalty at 12:50.
Canada got some chances, including one from Nick Suzuki’s brother Ryan Suzuki, though Russia also challenged short-handed. However, during the back-half of the man-advantage, Cole Perfetti sniped one under Askarov’s glove from the right circle, putting the Canadiens up 3-0.
Russia counterattacked after that, getting some sustained time in the offensive zone, but Askarov continued to be the far busier goalie, especially in the final minute of the period, as Canada outshot Russia 16-7 in the first.
The Russians came out swinging, but Canada matched their intensity. Askarov once again lost his stick, and the Russians scrambled between defending and trying to get him back his stick. In the scramble, Braden Schneider put the puck past him, once again past his glove hand to make it 4-0.
Although the Russian skaters continued to battle, Canada controlled the play far more often than not.
Canada returned to the power play as Peyton Krebs was hauled down along the boards 8:13 into the second. They weren’t able to generate anything that time, and were forced to make some nice defensive plays.
Devon Levi really didn’t see much work, but was calm, cool, and collected when he did, which was especially noticeable in a sequence with about five to go in the frame.
Russia finally got their first chance on the power play at 16:34, despite Levi and a terrific play from Pelletier, the puck went off Justin Barron and to the stick of Mikhail Abramov. The goal was challenged by Canada, and the goal was indeed called off, ruled as offside. The Russians responded with determination, but Dylan Cozens got in alone and was awarded a penalty shot. However, Askarov made both the save on the original shot, and on the penalty shot to keep it 4-0. Shots were far more even at the end of the second, 25-20 for the Canadians.
Things got a briefly chippy early in the third, and Canada pressured again, but Askarov stepped up. But though Russia came close to scoring several times, they remained unable to officially solve Levi. With 3:50 to go, Peyton Krebs and Zakhar Bardakov were both sent to cool their heels after they tangled behind the Russian net.
With three minutes to go, Russia pulled Askarov for the extra skater, but Cousins scored an empty netter with 1:29 to go for his third point of the game.
When the final horn sounded, Levi picked up yet another shut out in the tournament behind an absolutely dominant Team Canada, who now advances to play for gold.