Canada celebrated its first World Junior Championship since 2009 when it defeated Russia in the gold medal game before a sold out crowd at the Air Canada Centre. Canada almost blew a 5-1 lead in the second period, but played a disciplined third period an hung on for the win.
Canada is golden at the World Junior Championship for the first time in six years, but its road to the championship was hardly paved with gold in the final game.
There were speed bumps along the way, a whole bunch of them, but Canada prevailed in the gold medal game by a score of 5-4. But not without first almost imploding after taking a 5-1 lead midway through the second period. In what looked like shades of 2011, Canada allowed the Russians back in the game when the visiting team scored twice in 32 seconds and three times in 3:16 to narrow the gap to 5-4 after two periods.
But unlike 2011 in Buffalo when Canada left bitterly disappointed, it did not break this time. The Canadian team regrouped and played a solid third period to secure the victory.
The forward line for the tournament all-star team was made up entirely of Canadians, with Max Domi, Connor McDavid and Sam Reinhart picking up the honors. Canadian defenseman Josh Morrissey was also named to the team along with Swedish defenseman Gustav Forsling. Slovakian goalie Denis Godla, who was heroic in leading his team to the bronze medal, was named both the all-star goaltender and the MVP of the tournament.
The Canadian team that took gold will have six players who are eligible to return next year for the tournament in Helsinki. McDavid, the consensus top choice in the 2015 draft, is eligible to return, but will almost certainly playing in the NHL. Defenseman Joe Hicketts and forwards Brayden Point, Jake Virtanen, Lawson Crouse and Robby Fabbri, who was injured earlier in the tournament, will all be eligible to return.
More to follow.