Canada is once again golden at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.
Facing off in the gold medal game for the third-straight year, and fifth time in the past six runnings of the annual tournament, the Canadian National Junior Team put together yet another memorable outing in a wildly-entertaining final showdown with Finland, in a game that needed overtime to decide a world champion.
Kent Johnson scored the tournament-clincher on his own rebound, just 3:20 into the extra frame, which sent all of Rogers Place into a mad frenzy in the rescheduled summertime World Juniors.
“Stanks made a nice play and got it to my backhand,” Johnson said post-game. “I tried to go five-hole, and that didn’t work, but I got the rebound. It was super exciting. I actually thought I would score. I love three-on-three. This gold means the world to us.”
But it truly was team captain and the tournament’s leading goal and point scorer, Mason McTavish, who made the play of the game, knocking a Finnish shot out of the air and off the goal line in overtime, preserving the 2-2 game, before Johnson was able to capitalize up ice.
“It was pretty crazy,” McTavish said of his incredible defensive play. “My stick was in the right place at the right time. I don’t even know why I was behind our goalie. I’m just thinking about it now. But next thing I went to the bench and KJ was on a breakaway. It was an exciting couple of minutes and so happy to be on the right side of it.”
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“I didn’t fully see it,” Johnson, the overtime hero said. “I didn’t know it was batted out of the air or whatnot. I kinda just thought it was on the ice, I didn’t think too much of it. Obviously, I was a bit nervous, the puck’s on the goal line. Then I saw the video after, and it was like, wow. What a play. That was the best play of OT.”
Holding a 2-0 lead and outshooting Finland heavily through 40 minutes of play, Canada squandered up 17 shots in the third period – which was four more than it had allowed through both the first and second periods combined – Two pucks beat Dylan Garand, sending the game to overtime.
But with a slight shot lead, Canada’s top producers finished the Finns in style, besting their opposition on both the scoreboard and the shot chart, 33-31.
Canada also saw goals from Joshua Roy and William Dufour, while Finland’s goal scorers were Aleksi Heimosalmi and Joakim Kemell.
The Canadians finished the tournament by going a perfect 7-0-0. The gold medal was Canada’s 19th, while Finland’s silver was the nation’s fifth medal since 2014. Canada has now earned a medal in 15 of the past 16 tournament runnings.
On the same day, Sweden took the bronze medal in a 3-1 victory over Czechia, with Isak Rosen earning the game-winning goal. Goaltender Jesper Wallstedt made 27 saves in the third-place finish.