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2020 World Juniors Recap Day 9: Nolan Foote, Canada capture gold in the Czech Republic

Hugo Alnefelt and Sweden win bronze.

PHOTO: ANDREA CARDIN / HHOF-IIHF IMAGES

These last two weeks covering the 2020 World Juniors have been a whirlwind. Without dragging this on for too much longer, thanks for sticking around for another great tournament. Hopefully I’ll see you all back for 2021.

Relegation Round: Germany 6, Kazakhstan 0

Although Tim Stutzle (2020) missed his second straight game with an illness, Germany cruised to a 6-0 win, using a monstrous 4-goal second period to keep their place in the top division for another year. Dominik Bokk (CAR) scored twice and Lukas Reichel (2020) also got on the board.

After a Cinderella story in 2019, Kazakhstan won just once in the entire tournament, Game 2 of the relegation round. They weren’t able to beat German goalie Hendrik Hane in this one, and things went from bad to worse for them when two of their players were injured in the same shift. Kazakhstan will be relegated, while Austria will come up from Division 1A to take Kazakhstan’s place.

Germany’s young stars were the difference in this one, and although Bokk won’t be able to return next year, all of Stutzle, Reichel, Moritz Seider (DET), and JJ Peterka are still eligible. They could really create some noise in what is hopefully a less difficult Group A.

Bronze Medal Game: Sweden 3, Finland 2

SOG:
PP:
Players of the Game: SWE — Samuel Fagemo (LA), FIN — Sampo Ranta (COL)

Patrik Puistola (CAR) opened the scoring when he deflected in Kim Nousiainen’s (LA) shot with his skate:

Sweden would respond, with a powerplay goal from Rasmus Sandin (TOR) to tie the game:

A brutal giveaway from Nils Hoglander (VAN) saw Matias Maccelli (ARI) jump on the puck, slip alone on a breakaway, and beat Hugo Alnefelt (TB):

In the second period, Sweden would tie the game, as tournament leading goal scorer Samuel Fagemo (LA) added his eighth of the World Juniors:

Linus Oberg scored the go-ahead goal when his bad-angle shot from the corner somehow managed to beat Justus Annunen (COL):

There were no goals scored in the third period, but Alnefelt made some brilliant saves (more on that in the next section) to preserve Sweden’s lead, especially in the last minute, and they won bronze.

Hugo Alnefelt

Alnefelt played a lot better in this game compared to the semi-final, finishing with a .941 save percentage and making 32 of 34 saves. The first goal that beat him was a deflection off a skate right in the crease, so he definitely can’t be faulted for that. The second goal was the Maccelli breakaway tally that beat him blocker side. Although that goal was one he’d probably like back, it was also a really well-placed shot.

There was also this weird bounce at the beginning of the game that could have gone in had the puck hit his pads or skates:

When Sweden stopped playing (or forgot how to play) defense, Alnefelt was almost always there to bail his teammates out:

Alnefelt made a ridiculous split stretch across the crease when he tried to stop a shot that sailed well wide of the net, and appeared to be injured afterwards — but he would stay in goal for the rest of the game.

Good thing he stayed in, too, because here were the great stops he made in the third:

Alnefelt had a much better game than his counterpart Annunen, and he was a huge part of the reason Sweden won bronze. He’ll be able to return next year, likely as Sweden’s starting goalie again, and hopefully he can add to his medal count.

Gold Medal Game: Canada 4, Russia 3

SOG: CAN — 30, RUS — 38
PP: CAN — 2/8, RUS — 1/6
Players of the Game: CAN — Barrett Hayton (ARI), RUS — Nikita Alexandrov (STL)

There were no goals in the first period, which was surprising, given that there were five penalties called (four of them on Canada).

That changed halfway through the second period. Russia, back on yet another powerplay (after a brutal penalty call), finally broke through. Nikita Alexandrov (STL) got a tip on Yegor Zamula’s (PHI) point shot:

Less than two minutes later, with Canada on a full two minute 5-on-3, Dylan Cozens (BUF) banged in a rebound past Amir Miftakhov to tie the game.

But a scramble play in front of Canadian goalie Joel Hofer (STL) saw Grigori Denisenko (FLA) bang in a loose puck and restore Russia’s lead:

There were chances in the third period as well, but we didn’t see goals until halfway through, when Maxim Sorkin beat Hofer with a wicked shot to extend Russia’s lead to two goals:

34 seconds later, Connor McMichael (WSH) deflected the puck in with his skate to cut into Russia’s lead:

Barrett Hayton (ARI) ripped the puck into the net with one good shoulder to tie the game once again:

And Akil Thomas (LA) scored the golden goal for Canada:

Canada won its third gold medal in six years (2015, 2018), but this was their first gold medal on European soil since the tournament was last hosted in the Czech Republic back in 2008.

Nolan Foote

Well, he didn’t play much, but when the final buzzer sounded, Nolan became the second Foote who is a member of the Lightning organization to win gold at the World Juniors.

I was very annoyed with Canada’s player deployment until the last ten minutes of the third period, mostly because it seemed like they flat out refused to play Foote on the first powerplay unit in favour of Hayton, who was playing with a Grade 1 separated shoulder and did not look right handling the puck. Then Hayton scored the 3-3 goal on the powerplay and I had to eat my words.

Foote didn’t play a lot in this game, finishing with just 14:28. But at the end of the day, he’s going back to Kelowna with a gold medal, and that’s all that really matters.

Tournament Awards

Tournament All-Star Team

F: Samuel Fagemo (LA)
F: Alexis Lafreniere (2020)
F: Barrett Hayton (ARI)
D: Rasmus Sandin (TOR)
D: Alexander Romanov (MTL)
G: Joel Hofer (STL)

IIHF Directorate Awards

Top Forward: Alexis Lafreniere (2020)
Top Defenseman: Rasmus Sandin (TOR)
Top Goalie: Joel Hofer (STL)

Final Tournament Standings:

1) Canada
2) Russia
3) Sweden
4) Finland
5) Switzerland
6) United States
7) Czech Republic
8) Slovakia
9) Germany
10) Kazakhstan — relegated to D1-A

2021 Groups

Group A

Canada, Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia, Germany

Group B

Russia, Sweden, USA, Czech Republic, Austria