(IIHF)

Canada and gold, as classic a combination as peanut butter and jelly, wouldn’t you agree?

And despite what a weird year 2020 turned out to be, there was one thing you could always bank on; Canada playing good hockey, and this World Juniors tournament has seen nothing but that. And then some.

Bitter rivals Canada and USA will go head to head this evening for gold, following the Canadian team meeting Russia in a rerun of last year’s gold medal game last night.

Though this time, it wasn’t nearly as close, as Canada scored in the opening minute and shut down Russia’s offense for a dominant 5-0 victory, leading us to tonight.

As you dust off your team Canada jersey for this evening’s bout and settle in for some good ol’ fashion puck play, here are 5 things to know about the gold-medal match-up between USA and Canada:

1. BC’s Bowen Byram is a shining star

Have you seen the kid? Not only has Byram been named one of the World Juniors’ top players this year, his +14 rating has him beating out most of the competition on the ice.

Byram, a 19-year-old product of Cranbrook, BC, has dominated the blueline for Canada.

His five points (1G-4A) lead all Canadian defencemen, and in two back-to-back years representing Canada at the World Junior Championship, he has appeared in 13 games.

2. A match-up made in heaven

Canada and the United States are meeting for the fifth time in tonight’s gold medal game.

USA has won the past three meetings, most recently in 2017, when a 5-4 game required a shootout.

Remember 2010? That one marked the first time the US was back in the gold-medal game since 2004, while Canada was coming off five consecutive golds.

The Americans were up 5-3 in the third, but then Jordan Eberle scored two goals in the final three minutes to tie things up. In the overtime session, it was the Americans’ John Carlson netting the game-winner.

3. Canada’s Levi is lights out – literally

Even if Canada doesn’t get the gold tonight, Devon Levi’s performance at this year’s tournament will go down as one for the books.

Levi once again shone in goal for Canada last night when he posted his third shutout of the tournament — and second in as many games — as Canada took the win over Russia.

The Florida Panthers seventh rounder has a .975 save percentage and has yet to allow a single 5-on-5 goal at this tournament.

4. And that guy from Victoria isn’t so bad either!

18-year-old Dylan Garand was selected as one of the three goalies that joined Team Canada’s roster for the World Juniors this year, and the young goaltender hails from none other than our own hometown.

Though Garand is currently playing for the Kamloops Blazers, he calls Victoria home and has represented Canada’s team alongside another BC-born goalie, Taylor Gauthier of the Prince George Cougars.

Garand hosted an impressive 2.21 goals-against average in 42 games for the Kamloops Blazers during the 2019-20 season, which earned himself the title of New York Rangers’ fourth-round draft pick this year.

5. It could be a close one

This may be one of the most talented rosters the Canadians have ever put together for the World Juniors Championship, but the Americans also have a lot of grit as demonstrated by their recent win against Finland.

This very well could be a one-goal game, and even an empty netter could be the difference between winning the gold or silver tonight.

Tonight’s gold medal game will air at 6:30 p.m. PST.

 

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