WJC 2021: Three Takeaways as Team USA take Gold in shutout

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

We’ve got three main takeaways from Team USA taking Gold at the 2021 WJC.

It was a historic night for Team USA at the 2021 IIHF World Championship in Edmonton after they beat Team Canada to take the Gold Medal in the Championship game.

Florida Panthers prospect Spencer Knight stopped all 34 shots he faced for his third shutout of the tournament, while Team USA has now won its last four Gold Medal meetings against their North American rivals.

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It was a compelling night of hockey that put the spotlight on the two most talented teams at the tournament, while also highlighting a boatload of high-end NHL talent that could well end up dominating the league for years to come.

And some elite NHL prospects really took center stage as Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras recorded a goal and an assist to guide Team USA to victory, while also being crowned the MVP of the tournament with 18 points (7 G, 11 A).

Zegras tallied a secondary helper on Alex Turcotte’s goal in the first period, before scoring early in the second to effectively end the game.

It was also a fitting end to what was a superb tournament from start to finish, and we will share some of our biggest takeaways over the next couple of days.

But, for now, we are going to delve into the three biggest things we learned from last night’s championship game as Team USA continued their stranglehold over Team Canada in Gold Medal Games.

Spencer Knight (30)
Spencer Knight #30 of the United States. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

3. Late Knight Flourish

While Trevor Zegras was the MVP of the entire tournament – and more on him later – Spencer Knight was without a doubt the MVP of the Championship game.

The No. 13 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers, Knight got off to a slow start at the 2021 World Juniors after allowing four goals on just 12 shots to Russia in Team USA’s opening loss on Christmas Day.

However, that setback proved to be just a minor blip on the radar for Knight who got better the longer the tournament went on, keeping two shutouts and coming up big when his country needed him most in two close Quarter-Final and Semi-Final matchups.

And, on the biggest stage with the pressure really on, Knight delivered his best game of the tournament to outshine his Team Canada counterpart, Devon Levi who had been the best goalie in the entire tournament.

Knight was sensational in the Gold Medal game, stopping all 34 shots he faced, including 15 shots in the third period as a talent-laden and star-studded Team Canada roster really piled on in the final 20 minutes.

But the No. 13 pick in 2019 remained composed throughout all the pressure, making difficult saves look easy, his technique looked elite and he was just too hot to handle for Canada.

He stood on his head and was just unstoppable, becoming the first goaltender in nine years to pitch a shutout in a Gold Medal game, Johan Gustafsson of Sweden was the last to do it, and it was the first shutout pitched by Team USA in a Medal game.

Spencer Knight finished the 2021 WJC with three shutouts and a stellar .940 Save Percentage, proving why the Florida Panthers took him so high in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and why they were confident that they were selecting their goaltender of the future.