2021 mu18wc can rus e

U18 Worlds Preview: Canada vs. Russia

Thursday, May 6 | 8 p.m. CT | Frisco, Texas | Gold Medal Game

Jamie Umbach
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May 6, 2021
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GAME NOTES: Canada vs. Russia (May 6)

TV: TSN | Stream: TSN Direct

Two nations are left standing, and you can’t deny that their places in the final aren’t warranted.

Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team is set to contest the gold medal at the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championship on Thursday against Russia in a highly-anticipated final between the tournament’s two most-potent attacks.

Canada hasn’t claimed a medal at the U18 worlds since 2015, but that will change tonight. However, the question remains: will it be a first gold medal since Connor McDavid led Canada to victory eight years ago, or will Russia break up the perfect tournament and force it to settle for silver?

LAST GAME

Canada moved into the gold medal game with an 8-1 semifinal win over Sweden that was much closer than the final score indicated. The game was scoreless after one period and Canada held a narrow 2-1 edge through two before exploding for six goals in the final 20 minutes.

Two days after posting five points in a quarterfinal win over the Czech Republic, Connor Bedard added another three goals to his total. Shane Wright added a goal and three assists for the Canadians, who outshot the Swedes 29-3 in the third period.

Russia survived a wild opening 10 minutes that included four goals and a missed penalty shot, and then an even wilder finish to edge Finland 6-5 and advance to face the Canadians. Nikita Chibrikov scored twice and Ivan Miroshnichenko added a pair of goals in the third period for the Russians, who outshot the Finns 38-24 but were pushed to the final minutes.

LAST MEETING

Amazingly, Canada and Russia have not met at the tournament since 2014, when they were matched up in Group A during the preliminary round in Imatra, Finland.

Travis Konecny and Mat Barzal scored to give Canada a pair of one-goal leads, but a last-minute Russian equalizer from Vladislav Kamenev forced extra time. After overtime failed to produce a winner, Kirill Pilipenko scored the lone goal in the shootout, beating Canadian goaltender Mason McDonald to give the Russians a 3-2 victory.

WHAT TO WATCH

Scoring. Special teams. Goaltending. The tournament’s two most prolific entries are on a collision course in the gold medal game. Canada and Russia rank in the top two offensively for shooting percentage, power-play efficiency and save percentage, with both attacks having the ability all on their own to win gold.

At the forefront will be the lights-out trio of Bedard, Wright and Matvei Michkov. Bedard has eight points (5G 3A) in his last two games and sits just two points back of McDavid’s mark for points by a 15-year-old (14), Wright is a one point behind Bedard and has scored in all four games he has played, and Michkov has racked up a tournament-leading 11 goals and 13 points in six games. The craziest part? None of the three are NHL draft eligible this season.

Between the pipes, Benjamin Gaudreau has seized the Canadian crease with four wins in as many starts to go along with a 2.00 goals-against average and .922 save percentage, while Sergei Ivanov has been the workhorse in the Russia net, playing every second of the last five games and posting a 2.36 GAA and .920 save percentage.

Which nation will earn the final ‘W’? Anticipate a thrilling conclusion in Texas.

A LOOK BACK

The head-to-head series is tight; Russia holds a narrow 6-5 advantage, with the teams having alternated victories in the last six meetings, dating back to 2007.

This is just the fourth time the long-time rivals have met in the semifinals or later at U18 worlds; Russia earned a 5-2 semifinal win in 2004 and won bronze with a 6-4 victory in 2011, but Jordan Eberle scored twice in a five-goal first period and Canada romped to an 8-0 win in the gold medal game in 2008.

All-time record: Russia leads 6-5 (1-0 in OT/SO)
Canada goals: 44
Russia goals: 40

For more information:

Dominick Saillant
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
514-895-9706
[email protected]

 

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
[email protected]

 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
Office: 403-777-4567
Mobile: 905-906-5327
[email protected]

 

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