Canada: 7 W - 0 OTW - 0 OTL - 0 L, Gold Medal
Expectations were high as the tournament returned to Canadian soil in 2015 after two years across the pond.
Adding to the hype surrounding the tournament was the fact that Canada came into the competition nursing its first medal drought since the inception of the Program of Excellence in 1982. Further compounding things was the fact that the tournament was coming to Canada's two largest cities in the first of two joint-hosting dates. As if that weren't enough, the centrepiece of the tournament was 17-year-old phenom Connor McDavid.
McDavid's tournament was almost derailed before it even began, as he entered training camp nursing a broken hand he sustained during a fight in early November. However, Canada's top eligible draft prospect attended camp, made the squad and flourished once the games began.
However, the immediate impact for Canada came courtesy of another line: the trio of Max Domi, Anthony Duclair and Sam Reinhart. A blend of vision, hustle and finish, the line clicked immediately and posted a combined 19 points in the preliminary round. Comprised of three 19-year-olds - two with NHL experience - the line took the pressure off McDavid as Canada cruised to a 4-0, first-place finish in its group.
The only true test of the opening round came from yet another New Year's Eve classic against the United States. Canada looked to have matters in hand after a 60th-minute empty netter from Reinhart but the Americans surprised with a response to cut the lead back to one goal with 42 seconds remaining. Canada endured and Domi sealed a 5-3 win with another empty net goal with just four seconds left.
Winning the group proved fortuitous for Canada. First place in Group A earned them a quarter-final date with the upstart Danish team and the Group B standings set up a pair of grudge matches on the opposite side of the playoff bracket. The Americans drew Russia in the quarters, while Sweden drew its arch-rivals from Finland.
After an 8-0 handling of the Danes, Canada earned a semifinal date against another surprise success: Slovakia. Canada's 5-1 victory in the semis may indicate a one-sided affair, but Slovakian keeper Denis Godla earned the admiration of the Air Canada Centre crowd, which serenaded him with chants of "Goalie! Goalie!" after the Player of the Game Award was handed to one of his teammates. The media, too, recognized Godla as both a tournament All-Star and the World Junior MVP as he backstopped Slovakia to a bronze medal.
Canada went on to face Russia for gold and stunned netminder Ilya Shestyorkin by scoring on two of their first three shots of the game. He was immediately pulled, but Canada kept the pressure on, widening their lead to 5-1 just past the game's halfway mark.
Russia put a scare into the Canadian team, though, scoring three times in just over three minutes late in the second and sending the game to the second intermission at 5-4. Canada withstood 20 minutes of pressure from their long-time foes, but kept the door shut and earned a 5-4 victory, snapping its medal drought at two tournaments and its golden drought at six.
Four Canadians were selected to the six-man All-Star team, highlighted by Domi, who was also named the top forward by the tournament's directorate.
|Gold - Canada 5, Russia 4|
|Bronze - Slovakia 4, Sweden 2|
Team Canada Roster (GP - G - A - Pts)
Sam Reinhart (7 - 5 - 6 - 11)
Nic Petan (7 - 4 - 7 - 11)
Connor McDavid (7 - 3 - 8 - 11)
Max Domi (7 - 5 - 5 - 10)
Curtis Lazar (7 - 5 - 4 - 9)
Anthony Duclair (7 - 4 - 4 - 8)
Robby Fabbri (5 - 2 - 4 - 6)
Brayden Point (7 - 2 - 2 - 4)
Jake Virtanen (7 - 1 - 3 - 4)
Josh Morrissey (7 - 1 - 3 - 4)
Madison Bowey (7 - 1- 3 - 4)
Nick Paul (7 - 3 - 0 - 3)
Lawson Crouse (7 - 1 - 2 - 3)
Joe Hicketts (7 - 0 - 3 - 3)
Shea Theodore (7 - 1 - 1 - 2)
Nick Ritchie (7 - 1 - 0 - 1)
Frederik Gauthier (7 - 0 - 1 - 1)
Darnell Nurse (7 - 0 - 1 - 1)
Dillon Heatherington (7 - 0 - 0 - 0)
Samuel Morin (7 - 0 - 0 - 0)
Team Canada Goaltending (W-L-OT - GAA - SO)
Zachary Fucale (5-0-0 - 1.20 - 2)
Eric Comrie (2-0-0 - 1.50 - 1)
|G - Denis Godla (SVK)||F - Max Domi (CAN)|
|D - Gustav Forsling (SWE)||F - Connor McDavid (CAN)|
|D - Josh Morrissey (CAN)||F - Sam Reinhart (CAN)|
|Sam Reinhart (CAN)||7||5||6||11|
|Nic Petan (CAN)||7||4||7||11|
|Connor McDavid (CAN)||7||3||8||11|
|Max Domi (CAN)||7||5||5||10|
|William Nylander (SWE)||7||3||7||10|