Devon Levi (Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que./Northeastern University, HE) did it again, making 28 saves to backstop Canada’s National Junior Team into the gold medal game at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship with a 5-0 semifinal win over Russia on Monday night.
The Canadians will face either Finland or the United States for gold on Tuesday (9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT).
“I think everybody was well prepared,” head coach André Tourigny said. “The intensity, the attention to detail, the drive… [the players] sustained really well. When we played Finland [on New Year’s Eve], the third period was tough for us to sustain, [but] today we had three periods of intensity.”
Levi tied the all-time record for shutouts at a single World Juniors, set by Justin Pogge on Canada’s march to gold at the 2006 tournament in Vancouver, B.C.
It was also his second time blanking the Russians in Edmonton; he made 23 saves in a 1-0 pre-tournament win on Dec. 23.
“I had fun tonight; it was fun to play a semifinal game wearing the Maple Leaf,” Levi said. “Time is running out wearing the jersey, so I just enjoyed it. It was a great game that we played as a group, and we look forward to tomorrow.”
Dylan Cozens (Whitehorse, Y.T./Lethbridge, WHL) led the offence once again, scoring once and adding two assists as the Canadians received offence from five different players.
Alex Newhook (St. John’s, N.L./Boston College, HE), Connor McMichael (Ajax, Ont./London, OHL), Cole Perfetti (Whitby, Ont./Saginaw, OHL) and Braden Schneider (Prince Albert, Sask./Brandon, WHL) also scored.
Newhook returned to the line-up after missing the quarterfinal win over the Czech Republic on Saturday night with an upper-body injury and made an immediate impact on his first shift.
After his initial shot was redirected high onto the glass by Russian goaltender Yaroslav Askarov, Newhook gathered in the rebound and wired a quick shot that was in and out behind Askarov so fast that play continued for almost a minute before video review confirmed the goal.
“There has been some adversity, but I have really been looking forward to this game,” Newhook said. “Myself and the trainers pinpointed this game to really get back into it, and to contribute and be a part of this group means a lot to me. Really happy I could chip in.”
The goal came just 59 seconds in, marking the fifth time in six games Canada has opened the scoring inside five minutes.
McMichael made it 2-0 midway through the first period, sweeping in a centring feed from Jakob Pelletier (Quebec City, Que./Val-d’Or, LHJMQ), and Perfetti walked in off the half-boards and wired a quick shot under the glove of Askarov for a power-play marker and a three-goal lead at 15:05.
Canada outshot Russia 16-7 in a complete opening 20 minutes.
The second period started off much the way the first ended, with the Canadians in control. Dawson Mercer (Bay Roberts, N.L./Chicoutimi, LHJMQ) lifted the stick of Russian defenceman Shakir Mukhamadullin in the defensive zone to send the play the other way and Schneider finished it at the offensive end, jumping in off the blueline and beating Askarov just past the four-minute mark.
But the Russians found their game shortly after and started to push to get on the board, peppering Levi with 13 shots in the stanza.
They thought they got one back when Mikhail Abramov batted a rebound past the Canadian netminder late in the period, but video review confirmed the play had entered the zone offside almost a minute earlier, keeping the score at 4-0.
Cozens had a chance to extend the lead even further when he was tugged down on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot in the final minute of the period, but Askarov got a skate blade on the attempt.
Canada clamped down in the third period, allowing Levi to put a bow on his record-tying clean sheet with just eight saves over the final 20 minutes.
Cozens played give-and-go with Pelletier before finding the empty net with 89 seconds to go, completing another multi-point effort. He has 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in six games, leaving him just two points back of Dale McCourt (1977) and Brayden Schenn (2011) for the single-tournament Canadian record.
He is also now tied with Ryan Ellis for the fourth-most points ever by a Canadian at the World Juniors with 25, one back of Schenn and Jordan Eberle, who are tied for second.
Canada is in the gold medal game for the 18th time since the tournament went to the playoff-round format in 1996. It has won 11 of its first 17 appearances.
“Humility is huge for us, and we will stay humble,” Tourigny said of his team’s approach. “I’ve been on the wrong side of the final [as an assistant in 2010 and 2011], and I’ve been on the right side of it [as an assistant last year]. The second is way more fun, so let’s stay humble, stay on the job and take care of business.”