- Bovada lists Canada as the -165 favorite to beat Russia in Sunday’s IIHF World Junior Championship gold-medal game
- The Canadians have won the most World Junior titles with 17
- Russia owns a record 36 World Junior medals, including 13 golds
Just call it the rubber match between Canada and Russia.
Since the IIHF World Junior Championship adopted a medal-round playoff format in 1996, this will be the ninth time that the Canadians and Russians have clashed in the gold-medal game. Each country has won four times.
Russia vs Canada Odds
|Team||Moneyline||Spread||Total at Bovada|
|Russia||+125||+1.5 (-225)||Over 6.0 (-125)|
|Canada||-155||-1.5 (+165)||Under 6.0 (-105)|
Odds taken Jan. 4.
Canada beat the Russians in 2015, 2007, 2006 and 2005. The Russians were victorious in 2010, 2003, 2002 and 1999.
Lafreniere Heating Up For Canada
Left-winger Alexis Lafreniere was thought to be lost for the tournament when he suffered a knee injury in Canada’s group stage loss to Russia. But he returned for the medal round and the consensus #1 pick for the 2020 NHL entry draft has played a starring role.
Alexis Lafreniere makes it 2-0 Canada! pic.twitter.com/YhC8IXrUMA
— World Hockey Report (@worldhockeyrpt) January 4, 2020
He scored twice in a 5-0 win over Finland in Saturday’s semifinal. Though he was absent for two games, Lafreniere still holds down sixth overall in tournament scoring with four goals and four assists.
Russia Faces Goaltending Question
Russian netminder Yaroslav Askarov is also rated to go in the top five of the 2020 NHL entry draft but his performance has proven inconsistent in the World Juniors. He took the loss in Russia’s opening 4-3 overtime defeat to the Czech Republic.
In Saturday’s semifinal against Sweden, Askarov got the hook after the Swedes’ fourth goal. Amir Miftakhov replaced Askaraov and picked up the 5-4 OT win. It was Miftakhov who shutout Canada during group-stage play.
Canada’s early netminding woes have subsided. Since Joel Hofer replaced Nico Daws during Canada’s 6-0 loss to Russia, he’s been stellar.
Hofer leads the tournament with a .946 save percentage and 1.30 goals-against average. He’s 4-0 with a shutout since taking over as Canada’s starter.
Second Time’s Not The Charm
This will be the fourth time at the World Juniors that these nations have met in both group-stage play and the medal round. On each of the previous four occasions, the country that won the first time lost the second meeting.
|0-1||Head To Head||1-0|
|4-4||Past Gold Medal Meetings||4-4|
In 2013, Canada defeated Russia 4-1 in group play. The Russians bounced back for a 6-5 win when they met in the bronze-medal game. The 2010 tourney saw the Canadians double Russia 6-3 in group-stage action. But Russia was a 5-3 victor when they clashed with the Canucks for the gold medal.
The same outcome awaited in 2002. There was a 5-2 Canadian victory in group play but a 5-4 victory for Russia when they met for the gold medal.
Overall, Russia holds a 23-18-2 advantage over Canada at this tournament. Russia won the past two meetings. However, Canada won the past two medal-round matches.
Defeating Finland is a definite omen working in Canada’s favor. Among 17 Canadian World Junior titles, 11 have featured a win over the Finns along the way.
The Canadians dropped Finland 4-2 in the opening group stage match for both countries in 2018, when Canada won its most recent World Junior gold. The Canadians also downed the Finns 4-1 in group-stage action at the 2015 tournament.
Saturday was Canada’s first victory over Finland on European ice in the IIHF World Junior Championship since a 4-2 victory in the 2008 quarterfinals at Ufa, Russia. The Canadians also won the gold medal that year.
Perhaps the best trend in Canada’s favor came during the 2005 tournament. Canada shut out Finland 4-0 in the semifinals, and followed up with a 5-0 whitewash of Russia in the final.
Take The Canadians
Russia’s tournament play has proven erratic. While they were impressive in beating Canada, the Sweden win was a wild affair. And Russia lost to both the USA and the Czechs, two teams that failed to win in the medal round.
Going for gold! 🥇
— #WorldJuniors (@HC_WJC) January 4, 2020
Canada has grown stronger with each game since the Russia setback. Since that loss, the Canadians have won four in a row and outscored the opposition 22-4.
Pick: Canada (-155).
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