2015 World Junior Championships - MEDAL DAY!
This is it, for all the marbles.
It's all come down to this- a pair of games to decide the medal winners of the 2015 World Junior Championships. At 4pm ET Sweden and Slovakia will play for Bronze, while at 8pm ET Canada takes on Russia for the Gold Medal.
How They Got There
Sweden vs. Russia
Last night saw the two semifinals, with Sweden and Russia facing off in the early game. Sweden has dominated Russia in recent years, and went into the game as a major favorite, thanks to their lethal offensive attack and special teams. Russia was not intimidated in the slightest, and ended up pulling off a huge upset, defeating Sweden 4-1.
Canada vs. Slovakia
This was a mismatch on paper, but the Slovaks had every right to be in the semi-finals- after losing 8-0 to Canada in the opening game of the tournament, Slovakia has been very good, carried by the out-of-this-world goaltending of Deni Godla. If he's not named best goaltender of the tournament when it's all said and done, there's something drastically wrong. Last night, Slovakia held Canada to one goal through the first period, but Canada scored midway through the second period to take a two-goal lead. The teams traded goals in the last minute of the period, going into the second intermission with the score at 3-1. Anthony Duclair and Nic Petan scored in the third period to ice it. Petan had a hat trick and was easily the player of the game for Canada. In a very classy move by the fans, after Godla was not named player of the game for Slovakia, the fans cheered "goalie!" "goalie!", and when Godla raised his hand in appreciation, the place erupted. Truly an unforgettable moment for the young goaltender.
BRONZE MEDAL GAME
On paper, Sweden is far more dangerous than Slovakia, but if the latter has proven anything this tournament, it's that anything can happen. Sweden had visions of a gold medal, while Slovakia has performed beyond expectations. Can Sweden put aside the disappoint of not playing for gold, and take pride in winning the bronze? If Godla can continue to deliver the top-notch goaltending that we've seen from him so far, this one may be closer than it should be.
GOLD MEDAL GAME
This one has the making of a classic. What's better then Canada- Russia to decide an international tournament? Lately though, Russia has given Canada fits. No doubt Canada will be looking to continue their dominance in this year's tournament, but will be respectful of recent history and the fact the Russia has pulled off two upsets en route to the final game. Zach Fucale will start in the net for Canada. This will be one of the last chances for Connor McDavid to make an impression on such a large stage. His draft status is not even close to being in doubt, but scouts and fans alike will be able to see what he can bring when the stakes are at their highest. Dillon Heatherington has been a shutdown rock for Canada, and a win tonight will being a winning pedigree to the CBJ prospect pipeline.