As was the case through much of the day, a goaltender stood out at the World Junior Championship. Montreal Canadiens prospect Zachary Fucale proved to be a pivotal performer in Canada's 3-2 victory over the United States to earn the No. 1 position in Group A.
Fucale made two big saves in the third period to keep Canada ahead of the United States. Supplemented by goals from Nic Petan, Connor McDavid and Curtis Lazar, Fucale and Canada earned their third victory in group play. The United States opened the scoring with a tally from Riley Barber but allowed three consecutive goals, two of which came in the third period. New Jersey Devils prospect Stefan Matteau brought the United States within one late in the third, setting the stage for a dramatic finish.
However, it ultimately proved to be too little, too late, as the Canadians held on for the one-goal victory. Fucale and Barber were both named players of the game.
Canada has defeated the United States in the preliminary round in each meeting since 1998. Of course, that dubious streak has proven to have little impact in the latter rounds of the tournament, as the United States beat Canada in the semifinal round after losing in the preliminary stage in last year's championship (the United States went on to win the gold medal).
Canada will attempt to win its first gold medal since 2009 and will begin pursuit of that goal against Switzerland in the quarterfinal, while the United States will begin its medal defense against Russia.