The 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship finally came to a close on Saturday night, as Finland and Canada battled for world supremacy at hockey among under-20 players. If you were to predict the result solely on their round robin match, you’d have expected a walkthrough for team Canada, but it ended up being an incredibly close game.
Despite a somewhat tepid start to the game, a tenacious forecheck by Montreal Canadiens prospect Joshua Roy would eventually lead to the first goal. Mason McTavish would get the puck off the forecheck, put it on net, and Roy’s quick hands allowed him to be first to the puck and make it 1-0 for Canada.
Following the goal, Finland began to show a little more teeth than they had early on. It took them over 10 minutes to register their first shot on goal, and they had a little more urgency after the goose egg was broken. Dylan Garand stood tall in net for Canada, and we went to the second with the 1-0 score intact.
Unfortunately for the Finns, Canada’s top line went right back to work early in the second period. A fantastic rush up ice by Olen Zellweger created some space, and he fed William Dufour, who fired a perfect shot to the far side to make it 2-0 less than a minute into the frame.
Finland entered into some significant penalty trouble later in the period, but it was the Juha Jatkola show in net for Finland. The Canadians had plenty of opportunities to get their third goal, but he made a number of stellar saves to keep things close for his team.
The Finns took a total of five minor penalties just in the second period. Somehow, they managed to avoid taking any further damage despite all that time in the box, but did head into the third period still down 2-0 and with over a minute of penalty time to kill off.
As they did with the previous four penalties, they killed it, and it appeared to give them momentum. After ramping up the pressure for a few minutes, a seeing-eye shot from Aleksi Heimosalmi at the point got through Garand, and all of a sudden we had a one-goal game.
And that momentum kept rolling for the Finns. With less than 10 minutes remaining in the game, Nashville Predators prospect Joakim Kemell was left alone near the faceoff dot, and he made no mistake with his one-timer to tie the game at two apiece.
There it is... Joakim Kemell ties the game for Finland. pic.twitter.com/Y8KjG0QGc0— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) August 21, 2022
And that was all the scoring we’d see for the regulation periods. The game would be decided via the newly minted three-on-three overtime format for the tournament. Shootouts being removed meant that we could see unlimited 20-minute frames with a lot of open ice.
But it didn’t last all that long. It almost ended in Finland’s favour, but Canadian MVP Mason McTavish had other ideas, executing an absurd goal-line save to keep Canada in the game.
Mason McTavish should immediately be awarded the Order of Canada for this save... pic.twitter.com/rDYQuJo6pe— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) August 21, 2022
And that paved the way for Kent Johnson to play the overtime hero, giving Canada the gold medal in a thrilling finish to the tournament.
It was a fantastic way to end this iteration of the World Juniors, and we won’t have to wait too long to have an opportunity to see something similar. The next tournament is mere months away at this point, as it will be hosted in Moncton and Halifax starting this December.