BY ALEX LUPUL
With a gold medal being an expectation rather than a possibility, Team Canada has failed to meet the “gold standard” expected of them, with the team winning only one gold medal since winning five in a row from 2005-2009.
The tournament’s return to Buffalo made for an interesting storyline, with Team Canada hoping to avenge the silver medal they were awarded when the city last hosted the tournament in 2011.
For the seven returning Team Canada players (Carter Hart, Jake Bean, Kale Clague, Dante Fabbro, Dillon Dube, Michael McLeod and Taylor Raddysh) the 2018 tournament gave them an opportunity to upgrade the silver medal they received during last year’s tournament in Montreal.
Facing a skilled Swedish team, which hadn’t lost a game heading into the gold medal game, the gold medal was anything but a guarantee.
While badly outshot during the opening scoreless period, Canada struck first with a second period goal scored by their captain Dillon Dube. Sweden continued to push back, evening out the scoring late in the period on a goal by Tim Soderlund.
With 1:40 remaining in the third period, Team Canada forward Tyler Steenbergen scored the most important goal of the game, and also his only goal of the tournament, giving Canada the lead.
Alex Formenton’s empty net goal 26-seconds later put the game out of reach for the Swedes, securing the gold medal for Team Canada.
The first outdoor game in World Junior history was a massive success
BY ALEX LUPUL
On Dec. 29 history was made, as the IIHF World Junior Championship held the first outdoor game in the tournament’s history.
Officials say 44,592 fans descended on New Era Field in Orchard Park, N.Y. to watch Team Canada and Team USA renew their rivalry outdoors.
While snow did cause stoppages, it didn’t stop the players or fans from enjoying the unique experience.
“When the puck dropped we didn’t really look at the crowd,” said Team Canada forward Maxime Comtois, “but when we came out to start the game we kind of looked around and saw a nearly full stadium. We felt the crowd. It was a unique experience and we were happy to be here.”
Despite Team Canada holding a 3-1 lead at the end of the second period, Team USA was not ready to give up.
Scott Perunovich’s goal at the midway point of the third period got the Americans within one goal, which completely shifted the momentum of the game, as Brady Tkachuk scored the equalizer 34-seconds later.
The five-minute overtime period solved nothing for either side, forcing the game to go to a shootout.
Kieffer Bellows and Brady Tkachuk of Team U.S.A. both scored goals in the shootout, while all four of Team Canada’s shots failed to reach the back of the net, giving the United States a 4-3 victory.