GOLD! Canada wins epic World Juniors final in OT

Jan 6 2023, 2:31 am

Canada is on top of the World (Juniors) once again.

In front of a packed house at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Canada avenged a tournament-opening loss to Czechia, winning the 2023 World Juniors gold medal game by a 3-2 score in overtime with a goal by Dylan Guenther.

Things got a little closer for comfort than than Canadians anticipated.

The hosts appeared well on their way to cruise to a gold medal victory, with a 2-0 lead entering the third period.

But the Czech roster didn’t go down without a fight despite being held scoreless in the first 52 minutes of the game.

Jiří Kulich, a Buffalo Sabres prospect, opened the scoring for the Czechs with around 7:30 to go in the third period.

Less than a minute later, Czechia’s Jakub Kos evened the score at two.

Guenther, the 9th overall pick of the 2021 NHL draft by the Arizona Coyotes, also scored the game’s opening goal shortly over 12 minutes into the first period.

Canadian captain Shane Wright, who had three goals and three assists in the tournament already, added a second goal to the lead on a slick backhand move.

It was Czechia’s first appearance in the gold medal game of the tournament since they won back-to-back titles in 2000 and 2001, and their first medal since 2005, where they won the bronze medal over the United States.

17-year-old Canadian phenom Connor Bedard was held scoreless in the game, but was still unanimously named tournament MVP as well as a member of the all-tournament team. Bedard finished the tournament with nine goals and 14 assists, picking up a Canadian record 23 points in a single tournament.

Canada had won the 2022 edition of the tournament, defeating Finland 3-2 in overtime at Edmonton’s Rogers Place at a tournament postponed eight months due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the first go-around of the event.

The United States defeated Sweden 8-7 in the bronze medal game earlier in the day, which also went to overtime after 11 combined goals in the second and third periods.

Next year’s tournament, set to kick off on December 26, will be hosted in at two different rinks in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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