For the 19th time in World Juniors history, Team Canada took home the gold after a thrilling 3-2 overtime win over Finland. This game had everything from disallowed goals to a game-saving save from an unexpected source.
While many had their doubts about whether or not it was a good idea to hold this tournament in the summer, it is safe to say the gold medal game made it all worth it. Here are three takeaways from Canada’s victory over Finland.
Mason McTavish, Take A Bow
Mason McTavish not only had one of the best tournaments by a Canadian but also etched himself into history with one of the best performances in a gold medal game. First, he finished with two assists which gave him 17 points for the tournament. That put him into a tie for second all-time in points by a Canadian at a single World Juniors. He also bounced back in a major way when it came to faceoff win percentage going 16 for 28 or 57%. Lastly, he led all skaters in time on ice, not just for Team Canada, but also for Team Finland, with 26:50. From a purely statistical point of view, he was by far the best player on the ice for both teams, which is one of the many reasons he was named MVP of the tournament.
Then there is the moment that won’t end up on the scoresheet, the save. Just under two minutes into overtime, it looked as though Finland had scored the game-winning goal, but somehow, McTavish knocked the puck out of the air and cleared it off the goal line. It was one of those plays you have to watch five or six times to really appreciate, as the first few times will leave your jaw on the floor.
McTavish was incredible throughout the tournament and played arguably his best game when it mattered the most. This World Juniors was a perfect way to end a remarkable amateur career, as he should have no problem making the Anaheim Ducks next season. He wore the “C” with pride for Canada and showed the hockey world that the sky is the limit when it comes to his game.
Kent Johnson Gets Revenge
On May 29, 2022, Kent Johnson had to sit and watch as Finland celebrated a gold medal overtime victory over Canada at the 2022 World Hockey Championship. 83 days later, he returned the favour scoring the gold medal overtime winner and helping Canada defeat Finland at the 2022 World Juniors. The Columbus Blue Jackets forward was exceptional throughout the tournament and was arguably the Canadians’ second-best player behind McTavish during the gold medal game.
In 23:35 of ice time, Johnson dominated, recording eight shots and of course, scoring the game-winning goal. Whether it was his passing, drawing in defenders to open up space for teammates or showing impeccable patience to outwait Finnish goaltender Juha Jatkola on the game-winning goal, it was hard to pinpoint any mistakes in his game. Another player who should have no issues making the jump to the NHL next season, Blue Jackets fans should be extremely excited about what he is going to bring to the team next season.
Canada Lucky To Win Gold
While the Canadians played hard all game, they were lucky to walk away with the gold medal. The team couldn’t convert on the power play despite their seven opportunities and over 12 minutes with the extra man and didn’t drive play in the third period. They let Finland back into the game, and if not for the McTavish clear off the goalline, would have been walking away with silver.
Since Canada won and the tournament is over, those mistakes do not matter, but they should not be forgotten. When coaching the 2023 team and beyond, this year’s team should be a lesson that even if their team has more talent, they need to push all the way until the end regardless. Hopefully, the several members who are set to play in the 2023 tournament remember the feeling of watching a 2-0 lead slip away in the third and ensure history does not repeat itself.
Canada Are Champions Once Again
In the end, Team Canada found a way and walked away with gold. It was a wild journey, but one that soon will not be forgotten. Congratulations to all of the players and coaches, as this was a well-deserved victory. Next up, Halifax and Moncton, where Canada will go for gold medal number 20 at the 2023 World Juniors.
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|Team USA||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Austria||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Czechia||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Finland||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Germany||Players to Watch||Roster|
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