World Jrs. 2020 Gold Medal Game Quick Analysis

Congrats Team USA!

Defeating Canada, 2-0 in a well-executed game for the gold in the Edmonton bubble.

What did the US do to take down a team that hadn’t trailed let alone lose a game during this year’s tournament?

  1. Outstanding goaltending- Spencer Knight, struggled early in the event, but totality redeemed himself, made the big saves with help from his friends especially on the short-handed save in the 2nd that would have turned the momentum of the match entirely. Calm, collected, stable and at his best when it was needed. The recipe for a gold medal victory required from your goaltender. Levi in the Canadian goal was no slouch and is a wonderful storyline, but Knight and the USA was sharper on this day.
  2. Survive the first mins of the game. Canada had come out flying the first 5 mins or longer throughout the tournament. Today it what less than 3 mins. This dominance was mitigated early and the USA expressed their will on the match and dictated the play for approx. the next 13 mins, scoring the game winner during this time. It was the 1st time in this event the Canada players looked their age.
  3. Insurance goal in first min of 2nd– this really set Canada back on their heels and providing the Americans with renewed confidence and planting further seeds of doubt for the Canadian team. This led to Canada being out of their rhythm for about half the period. Forecheck pressure on the Canadian defenders influenced continued missed 1st outs, and 2nd pass disruptions, Canada’s attack flow was severely hampered for most of the game by this pressure, decision making and team skill expression from the Americans. The US was able to turn the game in the middle zone (creating a field play advantage) continuously attacking and sustaining Offensive Zone (OZ) pressure, this created longer shifts for especially the Canadian D-men during the 2nd period, which influenced the last minutes of the game as the top Canadian defenders looked tired, effecting decision making in the vital moments to create additional scoring opportunities. This was paramount in the lead up to both goals in the game. A very well if not perfectly prepared and executed game plan.
  4. Battles and disruptions- Canada until today was sublime in their ability to seemingly win every board/net front battle to this point. The US was at least equal if not better today, in spite of Canada’s size advantage. Canada fought in the later part of the 3rd to take back ownership of wall battles but the damage had been done. Canada was not as adapt today in disrupting play, winning races, use of stick on puck to poke and win these puck battles to the same degree and create the extended zone time that leads to higher quality scoring opportunities. When it did happen, McMicheal’s breakaway in the latter part of the 3rd the US had an answer every time with recovery skating, tracking structure, and goaltender play, to mitigate any and every advantage created. The US team did an excellent job of tipping the scales on this key component to what has made Canada successful to this point.
  5. In previous matches Canada’s defenders have done a very good job of moving with the puck in the OZ, creating confusion and moving the puck to the open man as an additional way of extending OZ possession time which lead to scoring opportunities. Today, the defenders settled for quick release shots, many blocked, on first touches. The US game plan took away the D-D pass, when there were opportunities, the mental representation and prep for Canada’s D had them not make the extra pass to an open man and miss on these possible difference making opportunities by shooting into American players sticks, legs and bodies. This forced much of Canada’s scoring opportunities to be created from much grittier down low battles as opposed to opening up more space above the circles for attacks into the house and greatly influenced the complexation and eventual outcome of the game.

The joy of victory and the agony of defeat.

Really liked the Captains of the teams presenting the medals to their teammates, I hope this “new” tradition will continue when we see play resume at full human capacity in rinks around the world.

Love to hear your thoughts and insights from today’s gold medal performance!

Please do share and comment.

About Acres Hockey Training

Canadian Professional hockey coach living abroad.
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