Darien's Spencer Knight, US shock Canada for World Junior gold

Spencer Knight may have saved his best performance for last.

With Darien’s Knight delivering a perfect game in the goal, the United States defeated heavily-favored Canada 2-0 to capture the gold medal at the 2021 World Junior ice hockey championship Tuesday night in Edmonton, Alberta.

Knight, a first-round pick of the Florida Panthers in the 2019 NHL Draft, collected 34 saves including 15 while nailing down the victory in the third period. The shutout was his third of the tournament.

Alex Turcotte gave the U.S. the lead in the first period, and MVP Trevor Zegras, netted the second goal during the first minute of the second period.

Canada had outscored its opponents 41-4 while winning its first six games to reach the final, but was unable to crack through against Knight.

“No one person can win a game on their own,” Knight told TSN Canada. “Our whole team battled so hard from start to finish. Every time we went into the locker room, we got so much new energy going and I was so proud of the guys. We stuck to our game plan, played hard, (and) played selfless.”

The victory gave Knight a storybook ending to his three years at the World Juniors. He was a backup goalie on the 2019 team which lost in the gold medal game to Finland, and started last winter when the Americans were knocked out in the quarterfinals, again by Finland.

This year, the U.S. won six straight games following a 5-3 loss to Russia in the opening round. Knight allowed four goals on 12 shots in that contest, but came back to allow just five goals on 137 shots in his next five games.

In the three bracket games, Knight allowed five goals, but just two came at even strength. He finished the tournament with a 1.63 goals against average and a 93.96 save percentage.

United States' Cam York (4) gives goalie Spencer Knight (30) a gold medal after the team's win over Canada in the championship game in the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in Edmonton, Alberta. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)

United States' Cam York (4) gives goalie Spencer Knight (30) a gold medal after the team's win over Canada in the championship game in the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in Edmonton, Alberta. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)

JASON FRANSON / Associated Press

david.stewart@hearstmediact.com; @dstewartsports