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Canada faces Russia in the WJC gold medal game; how has that gone in the past?

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It’s time for a tie breaker.

Canada v Russia Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

Canada will play Russia in the gold medal game today at 1pm at the IIHF U20 World Championships for the first time in four years. It used to be expected that Canada would play in the final of this series, and usually against Russia, but in the past ten years of tournaments, Canada only played in the gold medal round four times, and only won twice.

The world has been catching up to Canada talent wise, and the expected dominance hasn’t always shown itself. This year we get a throwback to those years where we’d win five tournaments in a row and beat Russia in the finals for most of those golds.

Facing off with a familiar foe, I thought I would take a look back at the any times Canada and Russia (and the USSR) faced off to see whose teens are better than whose. Of course these are just including tournaments that had a bracket format, which began in 1996.

1999 - Winnipeg & Brandon, MB

Russia 3 - Canada 2 - OT

Canada - 2-1-1 - 2nd in pool A
Leading Scorer: Daniel Tkaczuk - 6G, 4A, 10Pts
Path to Gold: Defeated Kazakhstan 12-2 in QF, Sweden 6-1 in SF

Russia - 3-1-0 - 2nd in pool B
Leading Scorer: Maxim Afinogenov, Maxim Balmochnykh, Dmitri Kirilenko - 3G, 5A, 8Pts
Path to Gold: Defeated Finland 3-2 OT in QF, Slovakia 3-2 in SF

Neither of these teams had a bye to the semi’s but Canada seemed to have an easier path, knocking away Kazakhstan and Sweden with ease, while the Russians had some tight competitions with Finland and Slovakia.

This was a tightly contested game with Simon Gagné putting Canada up 1-0 in the first, but Russia would take the lead by scoring two unanswered goals in the second. Bryan Allen scored to tie the game in the third, but it would take only five minutes of overtime for Artem Chubarov to score on Roberto Luongo to give the Russians their first gold medal playing under the Russian flag, and their first gold under the new playoff format.

Gold Count: Russia 1 - Canada 0

2002 - Pardubice and Hradec Králové, Czech Republic

Russia 5 - Canada 4

Canada - 3-0-1 - 2nd in pool A
Leading Scorer: Mike Cammalleri - 7G, 4A, 11Pts
Path to Gold: Defeated Sweden 5-2 in QF, Switzerland 4-0 in SF

Russia - 2-0-2 - 3rd in pool A
Leading Scorer: Alexander Frolov - 6G, 2A, 8Pts
Path to Gold: Defeated USA 6-1 in QF, Finland 2-1 OT in SF

Canada once again cruised to the gold medal game while Russia would need another overtime game against Finland to advance.

Canada would hold the lead in this game thanks to goals from Brian Sutherby, Chuck Kobasew, and Scottie Upshall, but Russia would tie the game at the halfway mark and Yuri Trubachev would give them the 4-3 lead. Kobasew tied it at four, but two minutes later Russia would take the lead and the game.

Gold Count: Russia 2 - Canada 0

2003 - Halifax & Sydney, NS

Russia 3 - Canada 2

Canada - 4-0-0 - 1st in pool B
Leading Scorer: Carlo Colaiacovo - 1G, 9A, 10Pts
Path to Gold: Defeated USA 3-2 in SF

Russia - 4-0-0 - 1st in pool A
Leading Scorer: Igor Grigorenko - 6G, 4A, 10Pts
Path to Gold: Defeated Finland 4-1 in SF

Both Canada and Russia dominated their pools in this tournament. Canada won all of their games while scoring 21 goals and only allowing six. Russia was only a little bit worse because they allowed seven goals. It was inevitable that these two would meet in the gold medal game, and Russia defeated Finland cleanly this time, but the United States did their best to play spoiler by keeping their game close and tying it up after each Canadian goal, until Jeff Woywitka made it 3-2 with less than ten minutes remaining.

The gold medal game saw Canada fall behind 1-0 early, but thanks to PA Parenteau and Scottie Upshall, they got the lead after 36 minutes. However this was short lived thanks to Igor Grigorenko scoring just eight minutes after Upshall, and Yuri Trubachev scoring the game winner with nine minutes remaining.

Gold Count: Russia 3 - Canada 0

2005 - Grand Forks, ND & Three Rivers, MN

Canada 6 - Russia 1

Canada - 4-0-0 - 1st in pool B
Leading Scorer: Patrice Bergeron - 5G, 8A - 13Pts
Path to Gold: Defeated Czech Republic 3-1 in SF

Russia - 3-1-0 - 1st in pool A
Leading Scorer: Alexander Ovechkin - 7G, 4A, 11Pts
Path to Gold: Defeated USA 7-2 in SF

This is the beginning of Canada’s five year dominance of the tournament. The NHL’s cancelled season gave Canada all of their top picks for this tournament, and the team assembled did not disappoint. Canada ran the table in the round robin, finishing with a 32-5 goal differential. Russia did well, but not as well as they did back in Halifax. losing their only game on opening night to the host United States.

Russia got their revenge with a dominating win in the semi-finals while Canada played it slow with the Czechs in their only playoff game. The gold medal game was no contest however, with Ryan Getzlaf scoring in the first minute, on their way to a 6-1 win for their first gold against the Russians.

Gold Count: Russia 3 - Canada 1

2006 - Vancouver, Kelowna, Kamloops, BC

Canada 5 - Russia 0

Canada - 4-0-0 - 1st in pool A
Leading Scorer: Blake Comeau - 3G, 4A, 7Pts
Path to Gold: Defeated Finland 4-0 in SF

Russia - 4-0-0 - 1st in pool B
Leading Scorer: Evgeni Malkin - 4G, 6A, 10Pts
Path to Gold: Defeated USA 5-1 in SF

Both teams had a bye to the semi-finals and made quick work of their opponents. It looked like it would be a battle of the titans in the final, but Canada made quick work of the Russians, as they won 5-0 in front 18,000+ Canadians.

Gold Count: Russia 3 - Canada 2

2007 - Leksand & Mora, Sweden

Canada 4 - Russia 2

Canada - 4-0-0 - 1st in pool A
Leading Scorer: Jonathan Toews - 3G, 4A, 7Pts
Path to Gold: Defeated USA 2-1 SO in SF

Russia - 4-0-0 - 1st in pool B
Leading Scorer: Alexei Cherepanov - 5G, 3A, 8Pts
Path to Gold: Defeated Sweden 4-2 in SF

Canada and Russia once again made quick work of their respective pools, but the semi-finals weren’t as easy as the previous year. We almost missed the three-peat of Canada vs Russia, but Jonathan Toews won the shootout to give Canada it’s third straight trip to the final. Russia had an easier time that was only threatened when they kept taking penalties as they only gave up power play goals to Sweden,

Penalties were once again the biggest adversary in the final, as the two teams gave up two power play goals each, but Canada was also able to get two even strength goals to take their third of five straight gold medals.

Gold Count - Russia 3 - Canada 3

2011 - Buffalo, NY

Russia 5 - Canada 3

Canada - 3-0-1 - 2nd in pool B
Leading Scorer: Brayden Schenn - 8G, 10A, 18Pts
Path to Gold: Defeated Switzerland 4-1 in QF, defeated USA 4-1 in SF

Russia - 2-0-0-2 - 3rd in pool B
Leading Scorer: Evgeny Kuznetsov - 4G, 7A, 11Pts
Path to Gold: Defeated Finland 4-3 OT in QF, defeated Sweden 4-3 SO in SF

This one was a heart breaker. Canada easily got past their playoff opponents, while Russia needed all the time in the world to get past their Nordic neighbours.

In the gold medal game, Canada jumped out early and took a 3-0 lead that led into the third period - they also chased starting goalie Dimitri Shikin - but as that final frame began, the Russians took over the game, scoring five unanswered goals to win their fourth gold medal against Canada. They would celebrate so much they would be kicked off their flight home.

Gold Count - Russia 4 - Canada 3

2015 - Toronto & Montreal, Canada

Canada 5 - Russia 4

Canada - 4-0-0-0 1st in Pool A
Leading Scorer: Sam Reinhart - 5G, 6A, 11Pts
Path to Gold: Defeated Denmark 8-0 in QF, defeated Slovakia 5-1 in SF

Russia - 1-1-0-2 - 3rd in pool B
Leading Scorer: Ivan Barbashev - 3G, 3A, 6Pts
Path to Gold: Defeated USA 3-2 in QF, defeated Sweden 4-1 in SF

On home ice once again Canada would cruise to victory, easily passing their playoff opponents, while Russia would struggle to overcome their poor showing in the round robin to barely skate past the Americans, but would get their game back in time to beat the Swedes.

Canada would jump out to a 5-1 lead, but as we crossed the halfway point in the game the Russians began to fill Canadians with fear as it looked like a repeat of 2011 was on its way as the Russians would score three goals in four minutes near the end of the second period. This would be the end of the scare as the Canadians would keep the third period free from scoring and would tie the gold count between the two teams.

Gold Count - Russia 4 - Canada 4

2020 - Ostrava & Trinec, Czech Republic

12PM - TSN

Canada - 3-0-0-1 - 1st in Pool B
Leading Scorer: Barrett Hayton - 5G, 6A, 11Pts
Path to Gold: Defeated Slovakia 6-1 in QF, defeated Finland 5-0 in SF

Russia - 2-0-0-2 - 3rd in pool B
Leading Scorer: Alexander Khovanov - 3G, 5A, 8Pts
Path to Gold: Defeated Switzerland 3-1 in QF, defeated Sweden 5-4 OT in SF

At noon tomorrow we will have our tiebreaker - both countries sit at four gold medals each. Canada cruised through the playoff round with ease, with a combined score of 11-1 while Russia narrowly beat the Swiss and struggled to defeat the Swedes in overtime.

Canada shouldn’t feel too much like a bigger, badder team coming into this game despite what their playoff scores look like. While Russia struggled to be dominant, they did defeat the Canadians 6-0 in the round robin.

Whatever the previous scores were, we’l have a good game for the gold, and will once again find out which of the countries are better at teenage hockey.