Canada, USA to spark old rivalry at World Juniors on TSN

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TSN.ca Staff
12/29/2012 3:29:25 PM
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The latest round in the battle between Canada and the United States at the World Junior Hockey Championship is ready to go on Sunday and if it's anything like its predecessors, it's bound to be a classic.

Catch Canada vs. USA live on TSN, TSN.ca and Bell Mobile TV on Sunday at 4am et/1am pt. The game will be replayed at Noon et/9am pt on TSN as well as at 8pm et/5pm pt on TSN2.

The match-up will go a long way to determining the final standings in Group A.

For Canada, a win would set up a winner-take-all final group match-up with the host Russian team on New Year's Eve.

Having already beaten Slovakia and Germany in the tournament, a win over the American side would put Canada at nine points, one ahead of the Russian side through three games apiece.

However, should Canada lose to the Americans, it would bust the group wide open and create a scenario where Canada, Russia and the United States could all potentially win the group on New Year's Eve.

The U.S. team is looking to rebound after dropping its round-robin match against the Russians by a 2-1 score on Friday.

Looking to avoid a repeat of the nation's disappointing 2012 World Junior tournament where the team failed to qualify for the medal round, the Americans must beat the Canadians or they will play a win-and-you're-in game against Slovakia on New Year's Eve to qualify for the medal round this year.

Canada and the United States have met in each of the last seven World Junior tournaments and have accounted for some of the most memorable match-ups in recent tournament history.

The Canadian team is 8-1 in the last nine meetings against the Americans at the World Junior tournament.

Canada won the last meeting on New Year's Eve of 2011. The Canadians jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead last year in Edmonton before the Americans answered with a late pair within the final dozen minutes of the game. Time would run out on the U.S., the result sending Canada to the semifinals and the Americans to the relegation round.

At the 2011 tournament the teams would meet in the semifinals. Canada was forced through the quarter-finals after an opening round shootout-loss to the Swedes and faced a confident, unbeaten American side. Canada would overpower the Americans, however, advancing to the gold medal game with a 4-1 win.

The 2010 tournament would provide the only win for the U.S. team over the past nine meetings, but the Americans would make the victory count. After a furious third period comeback led by Canada's Jordan Eberle, the Americans silenced the crowd in Saskatoon, winning gold on John Carlson's overtime winner.

Reaching further back, the memories are vivid and have ranked alongside Olympic battles cementing the rivalry as one of hockey's greatest.
New Year's Eve classics have become a large part of that legacy: Jake Allen would earn Canada a shootout win on New Year's Eve 2009, Canada would battle back from an early 0-3 deficit on New Year's Eve 2008 to take a chippy affair 7-4, the 2005 New Year's Eve match-up would be memorable for Jack Johnson laying out Steve Downie after the whistle had blown on a Kyle Chipchura empty-net goal.

That incident would set up a pair of classics in the 2007 tournament, including a 6-3 round-robin win for Canada that saw Downie score the opening mark and the unforgettable semifinal between the two clubs that saw Jonathan Toews and Carey Price stand tall in an epic shootout victory that would pave Canada's road to a gold medal.

This year's meeting provides no shortage of intriguing storylines.

Canada's head coach Steve Spott will have his team throwing chances at a player he knows very well: U.S. starter John Gibson, who plays under Spott for the OHL's Kitchener Rangers.

"I'm the president of the John Gibson fan club, but I won't be tomorrow night," Spott joked to the Canadian Press on Saturday.

The consensus one and two selections in the 2013 NHL Draft will go head-to-head in Sunday's match-up.

Portland Winterhawks defenceman Seth Jones has logged big minutes for the Americans thus far and is the assistant captaincy on a team filled with talent already drafted into the NHL.

Halifax Mooseheads forward Nathan MacKinnon, meanwhile, has been limited to just one assist through two games entering the contest against the U.S. Playing behind older, more experienced forwards such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan Strome, Mark Scheifele and

Jonathan Huberdeau, his breakout opportunities have been limited, but his play thus far this year in the QMJHL has vaulted him to the top of many draft rankings and he remains a threat for the Canadian team.

Jones admitted that containing the talented trio of Nugent-Hopkins, Scheifele and Huberdeau would be a challenge.

"That line is tremendous," Jones told The Canadian Press. "They have a lot of speed and a lot of skill. So you just have to try and take away their time and space as much as possible down low and really push them to make plays."

Fans of Canadian teams will also have lots to watch as the North American giants collide.

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets have first-rounders on both sides as Morgan Rielly and Mark Scheifele line up opposite Jacob Trouba and Tyler Biggs.

The Calgary Flames have a quartet of prospects in the game between Canada's Tyler Wotherspoon and Americans Jon Gillies, Patrick Sieloff and John Gaudreau, while Montreal Canadiens fans will get an up-close look at 2012 third-overall pick Alex Galchenyuk.



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