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US upsets Canada to win world junior hockey title, 2-0

American Cam York, top left, hoists the trophy after his team’s win over Canada in the title game of the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship on Tuesday in Edmonton, Alberta. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Heavy underdogs against a hockey powerhouse on home ice, Spencer Knight and his United States teammates snatched away gold for the red, white and blue.

Knight made 34 saves in yet another shutout and Team USA upset Canada 2-0 on Tuesday night to win the world junior hockey championship.

Tournament MVP Trevor Zegras had a goal and an assist, and Alex Turcotte also scored as the U.S. won its first gold medal at the event since 2017.

United States players poured over the bench when the buzzer sounded, tossing sticks and gloves aloft in a mostly empty Rogers Place. The tournament was played with no fans in the stands to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The winners linked up and swayed with delight on the blue line, lustily singing their national anthem as the American flag rose to the rafters. The Canadians, many with their heads down, leaned on their sticks and contemplated what might have been.

American Trevor Zegras, left, wears his country's flag as teammate Cole Caufield hoists the trophy after the team's win over Canada in the title game in the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship on Tuesday in Edmonton, Alberta. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)

Coming into the game, Canada had outscored its opponents 41-4 and never trailed. The dominant Canadians were aiming to repeat as gold-medal winners, but had to settle for second place in their own country.

Canada captain Bowen Byram had tears in his eyes as he handed out the silver medals to his teammates.

“I think we surprised them in the first two periods with how well we played below their hashmarks,” Zegras said.

“You could tell they hadn’t seen that kind of ground game from any other team in the tournament. We got a couple of quick goals early in those periods and from there we just kind of put it on shutdown mode and played great defense.”

The U.S., which finished sixth in 2020, won six straight games to capture its fifth under-20 title following a round-robin loss to Russia on opening day.

The Americans improved to 4-1 against Canada when going head-to-head for gold at the tournament.

Finland defeated Russia 4-1 earlier Tuesday to win bronze.

Knight, a 2019 top draft pick by the Florida Panthers, earned his third shutout of the tournament, tying the record set by Canada’s Devon Levi this year and Justin Pogge in 2006.

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