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World Juniors Preview: Canada vs. Russia

Thursday, December 23 | 5 p.m. MT | Edmonton, Alberta | Pre-Tournament

December 23, 2021


TV: TSN | Radio: TSN Radio | Stream: TSN Direct

Even if it’s pre-tournament, is there anything better than Canada vs. Russia at the IIHF World Junior Championship? The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the schedule once again, but one thing remains – hockey’s greatest rivalry is part of the Lordco Road to the World Juniors.


It was a semifinal showdown in Edmonton almost a year ago, and it was all Canada. Alex Newhook got the scoring started just 59 seconds in, Connor McMichael and Cole Perfetti added goals before the end of the first period and the Canadians rolled to a 5-0 win to book a spot in the gold medal game.

Devon Levi made 28 saves to record his third shutout of the tournament (and second in a row in the playoff round), tying Justin Pogge (2006) for the most ever by a goaltender at a single World Juniors. He also blanked Russia in a 1-0 pre-tournament win.


The Canadians return three players from their silver medal-winning entry in 2021 – goaltender Dylan Garand, defenceman Kaiden Guhle and Perfetti – while the Russians have four players back – forward Vasili Ponomaryov, defencemen Kirill Kirsanov and Shakir Mukhamadullin, and goaltender Yaroslav Askarov.


After just a handful of practices together, the Lordco Road to the World Juniors will be an opportunity for the Canadian coaches to see line combinations in game action. Based on the units that were together in Banff, expect to see Perfetti and 17-year-old Shane Wright anchor the top line, and an all-WHL trio of Jake Neighbours, Ridly Greig and Justin Sourdif playing a checking role. And what about Connor Bedard? Just the seventh 16-year-old to crack the Team Canada roster, Bedard skated as the 13th forward in Banff but has the skill-set to slot in up and down the lineup.

For the Russians, Askarov is the X-factor. The netminder is back for his third World Juniors (just the second Russian goaltender to accomplish that, joining Yevgeni Belosheikin – 1984-86) and looks to add a gold medal to the silver he won in 2020. Askarov has the ability to steal games for his team (the gold medal game at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup is a perfect example) and should be in the conversation for Top Goaltender and tournament all-star honours.


This game will be littered with NHL prospects. The Canadian roster includes 12 first-round picks, including 2021 top selection Owen Power (Buffalo), the first to play for Team Canada after he was taken No. 1 since Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2013. And don’t forget Wright and Bedard, who should hear their names called very early in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

The Russians have two first-round selections from the 2020 draft – Askarov (11th overall, Nashville) and Shakhir Mukhamadullin (20th overall, New Jersey) – and one from 2021 – Fedor Svechkov (19th overall, Nashville) – among their 12 draftees, and 2021 U18 worlds standout Matvey Michkov, who just turned 17 on Dec. 9, should be one of the first players of the board in 2023.


Is there a more historic rivalry at the World Juniors than this one? Counting the Soviet Union years (and one match-up as the Commonwealth of Independent States after the dissolution of the USSR in 1992), the Canadians and Russians have met 42 times (not including pre-tournament play) since the first World Juniors in 1977, with the results split right down the middle.

All-time record: Tied 20-20-2 (Russia leads 3-1 in OT/SO)
Canada goals: 158
Russia goals: 144

For more information:

Dominick Saillant
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
[email protected]


Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
[email protected]


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


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