In any case, the 2021 World Junior Hockey Cup has been completed. Judging by the way the tournament unfolded, the United States’ chances of winning could have been even greater. But for the fourth time in 11 years, the Americans came off the ice with a gold medal after putting on one of the most spectacular defensive and goaltending performances the United States has ever seen at this level.
Canada was unbeatable for much of the tournament, outscoring their opponents 41-4 for the gold medal match and never losing to them. However, they were faced with a very sexy goalie and an American team that wanted to take every inch of ice away from the Canadians.
For one team, the road to the tournament, let alone the gold medal, has been long and arduous. Several players were removed from teams’ camps due to positive COVID-19 tests or close calls. Almost half of the German team was quarantined in the first half of the tournament due to positive tests upon arrival in Canada. Sweden came to the tournament without four of their coaches, including head coach Thomas Monten. The Canadian camp was rocked by positive tests on players and staff, forcing a two-week isolation period at a hotel in Red Deer, Alberta. On the eve of their departure for Canada, the United States lost to two players with positive test results.
The question of whether the tournament should have taken place during a pandemic is discussed further. However, the system worked as expected and the result was a tournament that produced incredible individual and team performances in the first (and hopefully only) World Junior Championship played on the bubble.
Here are five of the main impressions of an unforgettable tournament:
Legendary performance of the Zegras11 candidates who took on the challengeFour who didn’t give their best in the U.S. to win WinCanada’s stats.
1. LeTrevor Zegras had a legendary performance inat the World Junior Championships.
Anaheim Ducks prospect Trevor Zegras achieved what can only be described as the best individual performance by an American player in World Junior Championship history. His 18 points in seven games are within one point of Doug White’s single-season record set in 1991. The difference is that Zegras won the gold medal and was named MVP of the tournament.
Zegras also set the record for most points in a junior world championship career with 27 points. The previous individual record holder, Jordan Schroeder, participated in three World Junior Championships and played 19 games. The Zegres have played 12 games since eliminating the United States in the quarterfinals last year. His average of 2.25 points per game is fifth among players who have played in more than one World Cup with at least 10 games. Peter Forsberg, Markus Naslund, Esa Keskinen and Vladimir Krutov are the only players Zegras has signed.
The key to Zegras’ production, compiled in 2021, is that the vast majority of his points were scored on consecutive goals. He watched the United States score their first goal and scored the second himself for the gold medal. He hasn’t slowed down in any game.
Trevor took on all the teams we played against, said head coach Nate Leeman after the gold medal game. He was so dedicated to the puck and that helped our team. Because it helped them.
At the beginning of the tournament, Leeman said he was particularly impressed that Zegras was as effective and dangerous at the end of the quarter as he was at the beginning. When your best players make this kind of effort, it affects the game. There hasn’t been a single game where the Zegres weren’t a threat.
Zegre will now travel to Anaheim where he will try to make the Ducks of the Peaks. He has a good chance if he plays as well as he did in the tournament. The 19-year-old is one of the best passers not currently playing in the NHL, with elite vision and a flair for hockey. He also showed some muscle this season and displayed his physicality, defending shuffleboard and long games and challenging teams on possessions and forcing player turnovers.
What made Zegras’ tournament even more impressive was the fact that he didn’t play a single live game this year, like many of his American teammates who still play college hockey. He arrived in the tournament ready to go after a long break and looked even better than he did at the end of last season at Boston University.
It may take some time before he is ready for a big NHL call-up, but there is no doubt he will be very hot in his first NHL training camp.
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