Canada overcame a late penalty and a 3-1 third period deficit to win the gold medal of the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic with a 4-3 victory over Russia on Sunday.
Akil Thomas picked the right time to score his first goal of the Championship. With 3:57 remaining, he pounced on a loose puck and beat Amir Miftakhov to give Canada its first lead of the game.
Russia took a penalty with 44 seconds remaining in their power play with 1:25 left in the third period when Pavel Dorofeyev hit a Canadian player’s stick out of his hands. Grigori Denisenko would take a second penalty when he played the puck with a broken stick in the final minute and the goaltender pulled.
Barrett Hayton, who was uncertain to even play in the Gold Medal game due to an upper-body injury, scored on the power play with 8:39 remaining when he fired a huge shot past Miftakhov to complete the comeback from 3-1 down.
Russia took a 3-1 lead with 11:14 remaining in the third period with an even strength goal when Maxim Sorkin took a pass from Ilya Kruglov and beat Hofer with a wrist shot from the circle. It was Sorkin’s first point of the tournament.
Canada came right back with an even strength goal of their own just 34 seconds after Russia took a two-goal lead when a Calen Addison shot was tipped by Connor McMichael past Amir Miftakhov, who made 31 saves in the game.
Canada got off to a strong start in the game led by Liam Foudy, whose shot from right in front hit off the post in the opening minute of the game. The Russians answered back as the opening minutes were intense and frenzied.
Russia got the game’s first power play when Jared McIsaac went off for tripping but despite some clear shots on Joel Hofer, were unable to take advantage. Hofer made 26 saves for Canada.
With just under 10 minutes remaining in the first period, Canada got a power play chance of their own. The power play ended when Joe Veleno was called for interference for lifting a Russian player’s stick out of his hands. On the power play, Alexander Romanov blocked a Barrett Hayton shot and would be in pain and need treatment on the bench but wouldn’t miss a shift.
As the four-on-four action expired, Connor McMichael had the best chance but his shot was saved by Amir Miftakhov.
Russia received a third power play with under five minutes remaining. While they were able to get their best pressure of the game, they were unable to beat Canadian goaltender Hofer. They did, however, force Canada into a fourth penalty right as the third expired.
Hofer again stood tall and the final minute saw several Canadian scoring chances but the period ended without a goal.
Canada got off to a great start in the second period with some pressure right away in the Russian zone leading to a penalty when Danil Pylenkov covered the puck with his hand, but like the Russians in the opening frame were unable to take advantage with a goal although they forced Miftakhov to make several key saves.
The first prolonged stretch of even strength hockey saw Russia get some chances as well with the best coming from Alexander Khovanov but Hofer made the save.
That stretch of even strength hockey would end with 12:04 remaining in the second period when Hayton got a penalty for holding the stick sending the Russians to the power play for the fifth time in the first half of the game.
The fifth opportunity on the power play would be the charm for Russia. Yegor Zamula’s shot was tipped by Nikita Alexandrov and the puck went through Hofer’s legs to give the Russians the lead. There was a review but it was ruled a good goal.
Canada responded right away. They put pressure on the Russians who took two penalties on the same play, giving Canada a two minute five-on-three power play. They scored right away. Dylan Cozens pounced on the loose puck after an Alexis Lafreniere shot to tie the game at 1-1.
The quick goal left the Canadians on the power play for over a minute and a half but were unable to get a second goal. Canada continued their strong play at even strength. Foudy would be saved by Miftakhov after a great play by Ty Dellandrea, and then Russia came right back to take the lead.
Alexander Romanov took a shot from the point and the rebound couldn’t be handled by Hofer, leading to Grigori Denisenko putting it home with 5:14 remaining in the second period.
Canada had a chance to tie with three minutes remaining in the middle frame. Miftakhov allowed a long rebound, but Akil Thomas couldn’t wrangle the loose puck and it was cleared from danger. It continued. Alexis Lafreniere had a one-timer from the slot that was saved and the rebound was blocked by a sprawling Romanov.
A Danila Zamula roughing penalty for cross checking Hayton after the buzzer to end the second allowed Canada to start the third period on the power play. Canada was not able to threaten with the advantage but Connor McMichael would get a great chance shortly after with a breakaway but his shot was stopped by Miftakhov.