For the fourth time in history and the first since 2013, Team Canada is the IIHF U-18 gold medal champion. Earning a 5-3 victory over a powerful Russian club, the Canadians relied on ‘Exceptional Status’ youngsters Connor Bedard and Shane Wright to help lead the charge over a Russian team still looking for its first gold medal since 2007.
After earning wire-t0-wire victories for the entirety of the tournament thus far, Canada faced its first level of adversity on Thursday, trailing both 1-0 and 2-1 at times in the opening period. Although battling back to tie both scores, the team then relied on its stars to open the floodgates in the second and third periods.
“We just stayed calm, didn’t panic, stuck to our game plan and system,” Wright said post-game. “We were confident in ourselves to be able to come back. In the second, we just keep pushing hard, getting pucks in deep and exposed their defence down low. We kept it simple and knew we’d be successful with that.”
The game ended with Canada ahead 5-3 on an empty-netter by captain Wright, despite the shots being tied 34-34. Ben Gaudreau stood tall in the Canadian net, helping kill off four of five penalties assessed during the game. Finishing the tournament with 51 goals for and just 12 against, Team Canada ultimately celebrated its seven victories in golden fashion with the most important win coming in the final against archival Russia.
On the Canadian squad were three Manitobans: Conner Roulette (17, Winnipeg) of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, Denton Mateychuk (16, Winnipeg) of the Moose Jaw Warriors and Tyler Brennan (17, Winnipeg) of the Prince George Cougars. Roulette skated in all seven games for Canada, registering two goals and five points. Mateychuk played in three games, while Brennan suited up in goal for one contest.