Tyler Steenbergen played under four minutes in the first two periods, but picked the perfect moment to make his presence felt.
The forward was the final Canadian forward to get a goal in the tournament, and he got the golden goal for Canada with 1:39 remaining in the third period to give Canada a 2-1 lead. Alex Formenton would add an empty net goal to give the Canadians their second gold medal in four years for a 3-1 victory.
It’s Tyler Steenbergen who’s the hero for Canada. Puts them ahead with less than two minutes remaining pic.twitter.com/AlGRB8uJiN— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 6, 2018
The gold medal game of the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championship was a matchup between the two top teams of the entire tournament, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that the two teams combined for the tournament’s best game with everything on the line.
The two goaltenders, Carter Hart for Canada and Filip Gustavsson for Sweden played incredible throughout the entire game. Hart made 35 saves and was named the player of the game for Canada. Gustavsson made 25 saves.
Sweden nearly took the lead early in the third when a Jesper Sellgren shot hit the post behind Hart right off a faceoff. It was Sweden who controlled most of the offensive zone time in the opening moments of the period, outshooting Canada 6-1 in the opening six minutes.
Canada would respond with chances in the following minutes including the line of Borks Katchouk, Taylor Raddysh and Robert Thomas getting chances on Gustavsson.
The second half of the third period would have a somewhat slower pace as the players didn’t want to be the ones to make the mistake to cost their team a gold medal.
That doesn’t mean there weren’t opportunities. Canada got a power play opportunity when Gustav Lindstrom went off for interference, but couldn’t capitalize and the power play did not look as dangerous as it has this tournament.
Four minutes later with Fabian Zetterlund in the box, Raddysh had a great opportunity but his chance in front went right off the post off of a great feed by Kyrou right on the doorstep.
Canada’s power play, which was hitting on over 50% entering the game, went scoreless on six opportunities.
Dillon Dube drove the net and took a pass from Jordan Kyrou and roofed the puck past Gustavsson to open the scoring and give Canada a 1-0 lead, finishing a pretty play from start to finish. Dube shook off Toronto Maple Leafs first-round pick Timothy Liljegren just 1:49 into the second period.
Great pass by Kyrou, great finish by Dube. It’s 1-0 Canada pic.twitter.com/QoyaxBDLqI— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 6, 2018
Shortly after that goal, Sweden would press Canada but Hart stood tall, making saves on Isac Lundestrom and Fabian Zetterlund to keep his team in front. Sweden had six of the first seven shots after Dube’s goal but Hart continued his strong play. They ended up taking a penalty, but Canada’s electric power play wouldn’t be the one to score.
Linus Lindstrom and Tim Soderlund broke in on a short-handed two-on-two rush, and Soderlund drove the puck in and shot it off the post and in behind Hart to the the game at 1-1 on a perfectly placed shot. It was the third straight goal that Sweden scored short-handed going back to their semi-final against the United States.
Another shorthanded goal for Sweden, this time it’s Tim Soderlund. 1-1 pic.twitter.com/NPkziLnJiX— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 6, 2018
Like Sweden, Canada bounced back after the goal getting six straight shots on Gustavsson. The shots were even at nine apiece in the second period.
It was an energetic start to the game as both teams got good first shifts from their energy players as Alex Formenton and Oskar Steen traded chances on either end of the ice but Hart and Gustavsson were up to the task.
The two goaltenders showed why they both led their teams to the gold medal game. Hart made 15 saves and Gustavsson made nine in the opening frame.
The two teams would each get a power play opportunity in the first period, but both goalies were up to the task even though the two teams combined for seven shots on the opportunities.
Canada looked to take the lead when Dube put the puck behind Gustavsson, but the whistle went before the puck went in. The referee was behind the Swedish goaltender and thought Gustavsson had control before the puck got loose to Dube. The red light went on, but the goal was waved off immediately.
Tough break for Canada. Early whistle negates a goal pic.twitter.com/RgdwsH1MEN— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 6, 2018
It was the first time that two teams that won their pool faced off in the gold medal game since 2009 in Ottawa, which was also a Canada-Sweden final.