Both Russia and Canada have won five straight games at this year’s World Juniors so far and there’s a good chance that the gold medal game could go right down to the wire. With Russia’s high-powered offense and Canada’s stingy defense and solid goaltending, it could even spill over into overtime or a shootout.
In the gold medal game at the IIHF World Junior Championship, a 20-minute, 5-on-5 overtime period is played if the score is tied at the end of regulation time. Teams select five shooters for the shootout if overtime settles nothing. If the score is still tied after the teams have had five attempts each, the teams continue to shoot in pairings until the shooter of one team misses and the shooter of the other team scores.
Let’s take a quick look back at the three previous World Junior gold medal games decided in extra time.
1998 IIHF World Junior Championship
Finland 2 - Russia 1 (OT)
A sell-out crowd of 13,655 filled the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki to watch the host Finns triumph over Russia. Forward Niklas Hagman had the winner and Mika Noronen provided the goaltending to give the Finns their first title since 1987. Overall, Finland finished the tournament with six wins and one tie, starting with a 3-2 victory over Canada on opening day.
1999 IIHF World Junior Championship
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Russia 3 - Canada 2 (OT)
Artem Chubarov’s goal at 5:13 of overtime gave the Russians a thrilling 3-2 victory in front of a disappointed, sold-out crowd at the Winnipeg Arena. Chubarov’s shot beat the nearly unbeatable all-star goalie Roberto Luongo. It was the first title for Russia since competing as the Commonwealth of Independent States in 1992. Vitali Vishnevski was named the top defenceman while Maxim Afinogenov was selected as the tournament's top forward.
2000 IIHF World Junior Championship
Czech Republic 1 – Russia 0 (OT + shootout)
Russia hoped to defend its gold medal from the previous year, but it wasn’t to be. Instead, the Czech Republic claimed its first gold medal in tournament history, defeating the Russians 1-0 in a shootout. Although the shootout was exciting for the fans, the game itself turned out to be a bore with both teams trying not to lose rather than to win. In the shootout, Milan Kraft and Libor Pivko scored for the Czechs, and goalie Zdenek Smid was the hero, stopping four of five shots. After he stymied the final Russian shooter, the Czech goalie threw his gloves and helmet into the air as his team mobbed him.
Getting back to this year’s game, if things aren’t decided in regulation or overtime, who might Canadian Head Coach Brent Sutter and Russian Head Coach Sergey Mikhalev choose for their five shootout shooters?
Here are the predictions of the HockeyCanada.ca writing team:
Dark Horse: Roman Voloshenko
Dark Horse: Jonathan Toews