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WJC Roundup: Canada, USA to Meet For Gold After Winning Semifinal Games

Canada and USA will meet for the fifth time in the gold medal game at the World Junior Championship after taking victories on Monday.

Canada became the first team to advance to the gold medal game with a 5-0 shutout over Russia, giving Canada a shot at consecutive tournament championships.

Canada is looking to become the first team to win consecutive titles since they last did so from 2005 until 2009. The final appearance also marks Canada's fourth showing in the past six years, with golds coming in 2018 and 2020.

It took just 59 seconds for the Canadians to open the scoring. Alex Newhook, fresh off of missing the quarter-final game with an upper-body injury suffered on Thursday, took a shot that went under the crossbar and quickly came back out - a play that wasn't called originally. A review about 30 seconds later indicated that the shot indeed went in, giving Canada a six-game streak of scoring first in the tournament.

"It was great to get off to a great start there, our whole team came out flying," said Newhook, despite originally being unaware that he scored. "To get one on the first shift, I think it's always great to get one then and get some energy right off the bat for the guys. I think we carried that through the whole game, so, great effort."

Connor McMichael would double Canada's advantage just past the halfway mark of the opening period. At 10:33, Dylan Cozens fought off a Russian defender to get the puck out to Jakob Pelletier. Pelletier then found McMichael waiting alone at the doorstep, with the Washington Capitals prospect sending a quick shot past Yaroslav Askarov for the 2-0 advantage. Cole Perfetti added a goal with the man advantage five minutes later to make it 3-0, a big lead heading into the second frame.

One of the biggest stories in the game involved Askarov - and not because of his usual strong performance. Just like he lost it on the Perfetti goal, Askarov would lose his stick moving post-to-post early in the middle stanza, just seconds before Braden Schneider's wrist shot made it 4-0. Askarov's inability to wrangle his own stick has been a story throughout the tournament, whether it's for dropping it on a play or for mishandling the puck behind the net or while trying to get the puck to the neutral zone.

The Russians finally looked to have had something to cheer about late in the period. Rodion Amirov With McMichael in the box with three minutes to go, Rodion Amirov beat Devon Levi on a rebound to give Russia their first goal of the game. Unfortunately for the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, the goal was reviewed and revoked after it was determined that the play about 20 seconds prior was offside, returning the game to its 4-0 state. Cozens would score the empty-netter to seal the deal late in the third.

With the 27-save shutout, Levi becomes just the second goaltender in Team Canada history to record three shutouts in a single tournament after Justin Pogge did so in 2006. Through six games, Levi has allowed just three goals and boasts a .975 save percentage, the best in a single tournament by a goaltender with at least four games played.

"I'm not playing for a shutout record, I'm playing for a gold medal," Levi said. "I'm looking for tomorrow and it's something maybe to look at after the tournament, but the job's not done yet."

Americans Survive Finnish Comeback Effort to Advance

It didn't come easy, with the team giving up a 3-1 lead late in the game, but the United States will advance to the gold medal game after defeating Finland 4-3 on Monday.

Since the tournament went to a championship game-style format, Canada and USA have met four times in the finale, with the United States winning the past three matchups (2004, 2013, 2017).

The Americans got on the board first in the opening frame after Alex Turcotte got the inside position on a defenseman in front and was able to sweep in a rebound off of an Arthur Kaliyev shot at 12:39. But two minutes later, Kasper Simontaival evened things up on the power play after a skilled pass in front of the net from Kasper Puutio, tying things up at one.

But a two-goal period for USA put Finland in a tough spot. At 35:53, John Farinacci took a long stretch pass from Jackson Lacombe and skated in all alone, beating Kari Piiroinen with a quick deke to get the American lead back. 1:07 later, Matthew Boldy re-directed Trevor Zegras' shot in on the power play to give USA their biggest advantage of the game.

Finland was the better team through the final 25 minutes of the game, and they were rewarded with a goal at 51:38 to give them some life late in the contest. Simontaival scored once again, taking a nice feed from Puutio in front before beating a sprawled Spencer Knight, cutting the lead to just one.

The hero for the Finns on Saturday, Roni Hirvonen, would once again come up big for his country. At 56:17 on the power play, Hirvonen grabbed the loose puck from an Anton Lundell shot and squeaked it past Knight at a tough angle to tie the game at three. But it wasn't enough to spark the full comeback, as  Kaliyev scored on a knuckle puck shot with 71 seconds remaining to secure the victory for the Americans - but it definitely didn't come easy.

Three Stars:

1. Devon Levi, G (CAN): Levi's run is one of the best we've seen at this tournament by a Canadian goaltender in some time. Third shutout of the tourney after grabbing another goose egg in the pre-tournament.

2. Arthur Kaliyev, LW (USA): With the game-winning goal and an assist to open things up, Kaliyev played his best game of the tournament at the right time.

3. Kasper Simontaival, RW (FIN): He picked a great time to put pucks in the net, but his two goals weren't enough for the Finns.

Final Day Schedule

Russia vs. Finland (Bronze) - 5:30 PM ET

Canada vs. USA (Gold) - 9:30 PM ET


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