The 2020 World Juniors ended with absolute chaos in the gold medal game, but the Colorado Avalanche came away with two of their four prospects winning medals. Bowen Byram won gold with Canada over Danila Zhuravlyov and Russia, who took silver. Finland, which had Avs prospects Sampo Ranta and Justus Annunen, finished fourth.
(Unless Byram or Zhuravlyov pots one today, no #GoAvsGo prospect will have scored at the 2020 WJC)— World Juniors Lauren (@laurkelly24) January 5, 2020
LD — Canada
Byram returned for the gold medal game (honestly, there was no way he was missing this one) after being ill the day before, and he didn’t miss a beat:
Bowen Byram, who missed last night's game due to illness:— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) January 5, 2020
"It's been a tough, tough last 28 hours or so, but I'm just trying to work as hard as I can. I feel pretty good right now so just trying to keep the energy going."
Byram played 22:12 and recorded one shot on goal, and played almost half of the entire third period.
#GoAvsGo Bowen Byram played 6:45 in the first period, third among Canadian blueliners and fourth team-wide.— World Juniors Lauren (@laurkelly24) January 5, 2020
Joe Veleno (8:45)
Jacob Bernard-Docker (7:11)
Jared McIsaac (7:08)
Bowen Byram played 9:14 in the third period. That is nuts. #GoAvsGo— World Juniors Lauren (@laurkelly24) January 5, 2020
He looked solid on the powerplay and as excellent on the penalty kill, which was necessary because Canada took four powerplays in the first period and the game easily could’ve gotten away with them early. Also, Byram was out in the final minute and dying seconds as Russia tried to tie the game
There is a chance that Byram won’t be made available to Team Canada next year, if he’s with the Avs, so it’s really great that he was able to win gold this time around. He’ll return to Vancouver and attempt to help them right their season as they push for a WHL championship.
LW — Finland
Once again, Ranta had a really great game, in a match where Finland continued to shoot themselves in the foot and play poorly. Ranta played 16:55 and recorded two shots on goal. Ranta was dominant on the penalty kill, was involved in the rare occurrences where Finland found themselves in the offensive zone, and was named Finland’s player of the game.
Sampo Ranta with a nice burst of speed in the offensive zone #GoAvsGo— World Juniors Lauren (@laurkelly24) January 5, 2020
Sampo Ranta (COL) has been excellent in this game. One of the very few Finns playing well today.— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) January 5, 2020
He's had a great tournament as well. Just imagine what he could have done with more ice time.
What a shorthanded play by Ranta, who stole the puck in the Swedish zone and got a shot off on Alnefelt that is stopped.— World Juniors Lauren (@laurkelly24) January 5, 2020
Ranta was definitely deserving of that today. I still think he was one of Finland's best players in both of their last two games.— World Juniors Lauren (@laurkelly24) January 5, 2020
Ranta will return to Minnesota in the coming days as the NCAA’s winter season kicks off.
G — Finland
Things started a lot better for Annunen in the bronze medal game, but it pretty much went downhill as the game progressed. He finished with an .885 save percentage and stopped 23 of 26 shots.
Finnish players are making terrible decisions with the puck today. Luckily Justus Annunen (COL) has been great early on. And that lucky goal helps things as well.— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) January 5, 2020
The first two goals he allowed weren’t too bad, but then there was this brutal bounce on the eventual game-winning goal:
Did USA break or kidnap Annunen or something because I’m not convinced this is the same goalie who played in that game.— World Juniors Lauren (@laurkelly24) January 5, 2020
Annunen basically had the worst 48 hour performance of his career (but honestly, he didn’t get much help from his teammates). It still shouldn’t take away anything from what he did at the start of the tournament, especially in the quarterfinals against USA.
Sad ending for Justus Annunen. He was, IMO, the best goalie through five games. Then a terrible first period, combined with a brutal GWG today, and it all goes away.— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) January 5, 2020
Avalanche fans, you've got a special goaltender on your hands. Don't let this tournament sour that. #Worldjuniors
Very happy for Hugo Alnefelt and heartbroken for Justus Annunen. Two really good goalies, one just had probably the worst 24 hours that he’ll have this season. Hopefully this proves to be a good learning experience for Annunen and he continues his domination in the Liiga.— Giants in the Crease (@CreaseGiants) January 5, 2020
LD — Russia
Zhuravlyov and Russia won silver, but they blew a 3-1 lead in the third period, and that will sting. Zhuravlyov played well on the third pair, although he did take a penalty, finishing with 16:56 played in the game.
There was even a rare Z sighting on the powerplay (Russia had four of them in the first)!
Danila Zhuravlyov on the powerplay?!? That’s a rare sighting. #GoAvsGo— World Juniors Lauren (@laurkelly24) January 5, 2020
Zhuravlyov played well on the penalty kill as well. Although Canada scored two powerplay goals, Zhuravlyov wasn’t on the ice for either of them. He played physically and was dependable in his own end.
There wasn’t much he could have done on the eventual golden goal, as his defense partner got walked and Zhuravlyov was too far away to stop Akil Thomas:
Zhuravlyov return to his still top-ranked KHL team to finish out his first season of professional hockey.
Thanks for following along with these recaps! I’m hoping to get the prospect reports started back up soon.