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Canada suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss the last time it played the U.S. in the gold-medal game of the world junior championship.
Seven years later, the Canadians are in Montreal looking to reclaim supremacy as the North American rivals square off in tonight’s final (8 p.m. ET).
Canada has won one gold since that 2010 upset in Saskatoon, when the Americans won 6-5 in overtime to ending Canada’s streak of five straight gold medals.
Since then, the Americans have outperformed Canada, winning two gold and two bronze to Canada’s one gold, two silver and one bronze. In fact, Canada has only earned a medal once over the last four tournaments.
This time around, the supposed Canadian edge isn’t as evident.
Canada dropped its only game of this year’s tournament to the U.S., losing 3-1 in group-stage play on Dec. 31 in Toronto, where the early rounds of the tournament were played.
The biggest difference in tonight’s gold-medal game is the goaltending.
Canadian Connor Ingram started against Sweden in the semifinal Wednesday, giving up two goals within the first 10 minutes before he was replaced by Philadelphia Flyers prospect Carter Hart, who guided Canada to a 5-2 win.
Canadian coach Dominique Ducharme confirmed Hart will be the starter in the final against the U.S.
Led by forward Clayton Keller, who has three goals and 10 points in six games, the U.S. hasn’t lost a game, going 6-0 in this tourney.
The Americans punched their ticket to the final on Wednesday with a thrilling 4-3 win over Russia, led by Troy Terry’s three goals in the shootout. The win also ended a streak of seven straight knockout-round losses to the Russians.
Ducharme said the Canadians are only concerned with their play, and not with any problems presented by the U.S.
“We’re playing for the gold medal,” said Ducharme. “We knew we’d be playing against a good team.
“It could have been another team. You don’t get the motivation from who you’re playing against. You’re playing for gold, and just that is enough. We’re going to be thinking about ourselves.”