Canada wins Gold at 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship
HALIFAX, N.S – Canada’s National Junior Team has repeated as champions at the IIHF World Junior Championship for the first time since 2009, winning gold on home ice after downing Czechia 3-2 in overtime on Thursday night.
Dylan Guenther (Edmonton, Alta./Arizona, NHL) was the overtime hero, scoring the golden goal and picking up his third point of the night off a give-and-go with Joshua Roy (Saint-Georges, Que./Sherbrooke, QMJHL) 6:22 into the extra frame. The win gives Canada its 20th gold medal and 35th medal overall at the World Juniors.
“Tonight was amazing. It is great that we were able to win, and words cannot really describe this feeling. It means everything to win a gold medal because you never know when you are going to have another opportunity like this,” Guenther said. “To win the World Juniors with this team, and do it in front of incredible fans was a moment I will never forget.”
Guenther opened the scoring on the power play just over 12 minutes into the first period, firing a one-timer off a pass from Brandt Clarke (Nepean, Ont./Los Angeles, NHL), who also recorded an assist on the overtime winner. The goal was Guenther’s sixth power play goal of the tournament, setting a new Canadian record.
Captain Shane Wright (Burlington, Ont./Seattle, NHL) roofed a backhand to increase the Canadian lead to two just over four minutes into the second period before Jiri Kulich and Jakub Kos scored 54 seconds apart for the Czechs to even the score in the third and send the game to overtime.
“I could not be more proud of this group. I am so excited and happy for everyone on our team, but it has not really sunk in yet. To win a gold medal at the World Juniors on my birthday is an unbelievable feeling,” said Wright, who celebrated his 19th birthday Thursday. “Playing in a gold medal game is about as high-pressure as it gets, especially when it goes to overtime, but we all felt confident and we were able to come away with the win.”
Thomas Milic (Coquitlam, B.C./Seattle, WHL) turned in another strong performance in the Canadian goal, making 24 saves.
A full game summary can be found at HockeyCanada.ca.
Following the gold medal game, Connor Bedard (North Vancouver, B.C./Regina, WHL) was named Most Valuable Player and Top Forward after leading the tournament in goals (nine), assists (14) and points (23), setting four Canadian records in the process. Bedard was also named to the media all-star team.
“We said from the start that we need to be resilient for 60-plus minutes. As much as we want to win games in 60 minutes, we know we were going to face a lot of good opponents in this tournament and it was no different tonight,” said head coach Dennis Williams (Stratford, Ont./Everett, WHL). “I loved how our players came to the rink hungry every day and continued to stick together. I am just so proud of this team.”
Canada finished the preliminary round in second place in Group A with a 3-1 record after a loss to Czechia (5-2) and wins over Germany (11-2), Austria (11-0) and Sweden (5-1). It booked a spot in the gold medal game with a 4-3 overtime win against Slovakia in the quarterfinals and a 6-2 win over the United States in the semifinals.
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