WJC 2021: Team Canada, Team USA give us the Gold-standard matchup we all needed

Arthur Kaliyev #28 of the United States. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
Arthur Kaliyev #28 of the United States. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

We’ve got the showdown we all dreamed about between Team USA and Team Canada at the 2021 WJC.

Rejoice, praise the lord, do whatever is necessary because we have got one hell of a mouthwatering Gold Medal showdown between Team Canada and Team USA at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship in Red Deer, Edmonton.

Yes, it actually happened, the absolute dream scenario we all longed for and all craved for will be taking place later with Team Canada slugging it out against Team USA for Gold.

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It will be a true heavyweight clash between two juggernauts and we are all in for absolutely all of it.

So, before we go further, exactly how did we get here?

Well, Team Canada continued to hammer home their absolute dominance at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship by shutting out Russia in a hugely-convincing 5-0 win in the Semi-Finals on Monday.

It was an incredibly surprising outcome given how talented this Russia team is too, but Canada just possesses so much quality and depth and they beat up on the Russians before landing the ultimate knockout blow.

Buffalo Sabres prospect Dylan Cozens had a three point night with a goal and two assists, while Alex Newhook, Connor McMichael, Cole Perfetti and Braden Schneider also lit the lamp in what was just a dominant win.

Devon Levi, who has been the best goaltender in the entire tournament, stopped all 28 shots for his third shutout of the 2021 WCJ and he now leads all goalies in Goals Against Average with 0.53.

Team USA, on the other hand, had a slightly more difficult task against Finland and were pushed all the way in a narrow 5-4 win.

It was a lot more close to comfort than the United States would have wanted, and it was also a perfect illustration of just how big a powerhouse Finland has become in their own right.

Anyway, it started perfectly for Team USA after Alex Turcotte got his team on the board at 12:39 in the first period, before Kasper Simontaival made it a tied game at 14:06.

John Farinacci and Matthew Boldy then put the United States firmly in the driving seat in the middle frame, before Simontaival and Roni Hirvonen struck back for Finland in the third period to seemingly take the game to Overtime.

However, with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, Arthur Kaliyev, who was taken with  the No. 33 overall pick by the LA Kings in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, dispatched a wicked snipe to win the game and send Team USA to the Gold Medal Game.

Team USA
Team United States celebrates its victory.(Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

What We’ve Been Waiting For

So, now all we can do is wait until 9:30 p.m. ET for the championship game between Team USA and Team Canada, a matchup that promises to be one for the ages.

Both teams were absolute powerhouses throughout the 2021 WJC with Team Canada winning every single game while scoring 41 goals and allowing just four games against with two shutouts in their last two contests.

Team USA did drop their opening game of the tournament to Russia on Christmas Day, but they haven’t looked back since and have been equally dominant, especially on the power play where they have gone 9-for-21 (42.86).

Dylan Holloway (10)
Dylan Holloway #10 of Canada (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

Meanwhile, Team Canada has flourished at 5-on-5 so tonight’s clash of the titans showdown could come down to who excels on special teams, both on the power play and on the penalty kill.

The game will also be littered with a swathe of mouthwatering matchups – some of which we’ll look at later – including Trevor Zegras of Team USA against Team Canada Captain Dylan Cozens, with both forwards leading the entire tournament with 16 points.

Goaltending will also be crucial and it could be a titanic duel between Devon Levi of Team Canada and Spencer Knight of Team USA, two netminders with incredibly bright futures.

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Overall, a Championship game between two loaded juggernauts in Team USA and Team Canada with the Gold Medal on the line was the outcome we were all hoping for, well most of us anyway, and we are now all set for what should be a tantalizing no-holds-barred, good old fashioned shootout between two teams at the peak of their powers.

Bring. It. On.