Canada reclaims world junior crown on Dylan Guenther’s overtime goal

Canada reclaims world junior crown on Dylan Guenther’s overtime goal

Breadcrumb Trail Links Hockey Team Canada wins the IIHF Championship Cup and celebrates defeating the Czech Republic in the World Junior Hockey Championship gold medal game in Halifax on Thursday, January 5, 2023. Photo by Darren Calabrese / THE CANADIAN PRESS Article content

Kevin Barrett, Postmedia Network

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HALIFAX – Dylan Guenther, you may never score a bigger goal in your life.

The Arizona Coyotes forward scored his second goal of the game, 6:22 in overtime as Canada, as only Canada can, defeated Team Czechia 3-2 and clinched the country’s 20th World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in the most dramatic fashion Scotiabank Center won .

It was déjà vu, a copy of the Canadians’ last performance against Finland at World Juniors 2022 in Edmonton in August, as Canada carried a 2-0 lead into the final frame only to watch the Finns send them to overtime. Canada won this one on Kent Johnson’s marker just after Mason McTavish cleared an obvious goal from the goal line with a punch that will be celebrated for decades.

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It happened again on Thursday, only this time Guenther wore the hero’s cape and turned a feed from Joshua Roy out of a 2-on-1 onslaught to add his name to the list of Canadian hockey legends with overtime with the likes of Johnson, Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux among others.

“It means everything to win,” said Günther. “You never know when you’ll get an opportunity to win again. Being here with this team and playing in front of these fans and the whole situation around it. It could not be better.”

“I didn’t shed my gloves right away,” he added with a smile. “I almost forgot it was overtime, do or die and then I see Roysie throw his things away.”

Canadian head coach Dennis Williams felt it was time for Günther.

“He was a bit of a snakebite five-on-five, but that goal that he scored on the power play, that was quite a throw,” Williams said. “Going on the two-on-one (in overtime) to get it to Roy and then back to him and then opening up to get the puck in…there’s a reason these guys are going to have long careers that.” Game.

“As I said to all the guys leaving tonight, from a coaching perspective they have been so fun to coach and they all have a bright future, not just on the ice but off the ice too. They were such strong young men. I’m really proud to coach these guys.”

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In the first two quarters, Canada’s birthday boys presented gifts that put the hosts on the brink of the title. Seattle Kraken captain Shane Wright and linesmate Brennan Othmann, a first-round pick from the New York Rangers, combined for a goal and three points to put Canada a pair ahead.

Guenther made a power play in the first half and Wright delivered another early in the second – both set up by Othmann – to put Canada ahead after 40 minutes while the sold-out crowd of flag-waving fans prepared to go into celebration mode.

That all changed within 54 seconds just past the middle of the third period.

The Czech national side, having shrunk to just 40 seconds before clinching victory in the semi-final against Sweden the night before, struck with lightning speed.

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Jiri Kulich knocked in a rebound off the third’s post at 12:30 and teammate Jacob Kos incredibly equalized at 1:24.

Suddenly, an atmosphere of potential jubilation morphed into a tense dramatic stage play that oozed with excitement with every shot on goal, every rush onto the ice.

Members of Team Canada sing the national anthem as they celebrate defeating Czech Republic in the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship gold medal game in Halifax on Thursday, January 5, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

The finals capped a monumental performance for Canadian Connor Bedard, the Regina Pats star, who won the Most Valuable Player award, confirming his place as Canada’s next great superstar and the undisputed No. 1 pick in this year’s NHL draft in Nashville.

The North Vancouver native finished the tournament with nine goals and 23 points, making him the country’s top scorer and point-scorer in tournament history.

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“He’s crazy. Every tournament this guy has been at a different level,” said teammate Zach Ostapchuk. “He’s really cemented himself as a star. I’m really proud of him and the way he was able to handle himself .”

Thomas Milic made 23 saves in regulation time, while star Czech goalkeeper Tomas Suchanek blocked 32 of the 34 shots he faced in regulation time.

Thursday’s game was the final act in a month-long history of maritime hockey that began December 9 in Moncton and came to a ghoulish conclusion in front of another Scotiabank record crowd of 10,735 passionate flag-waving fans.

Team Canada, who fought their way to a 6-2 win over the United States in Wednesday’s semifinals, finished 6-1.

The Czech Republic advanced to the other semi-final with a 2-1 overtime win against Sweden on Wednesday afternoon, looking to beat Canada for a second time after beating the Canadians 5-2 on Boxing Day.

USA took the bronze medal earlier in the day in a wild 8-7 win over Sweden when Chaz Lucius scored in the first minute of 3-on-3 overtime. Sweden had leveled the game in the last minute of regulation.

Event organizers said Thursday that attendance at the Halifax event was 98.6 percent and that the Avenir Center in Moncton was 75 percent filled for 10 Pool B preliminary round games and two playoff games — all with non-Canadians teams.

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