World Junior Championship roundup: Canada tops Finland in OT for title

Championship game

Canada 3, Finland 2 (OT) — Kent Johnson (Columbus Blue Jackets) knocked in his own rebound at 3:20 of overtime to give Canada its 19th tournament championship and first since 2020.

“[Logan Stankoven] made a nice play with the puck and made a nice pass to my backhand and I tried to go five-hole but there was way more room than that, and then I banged home the rebound,” Johnson said. “Going 3 on 3 in overtime, there’s just so much space out there and you’re not dumping the puck or really grinding for it as much, it’s just all skill and IQ, so it’s good.”

The goal came just 1:06 after Canada forward Mason McTavish (Anaheim Ducks) blocked a shot along the Canada goal line to keep the game tied.

“I don’t know [how I did it], to be honest,” McTavish said. “I just saw it trickling over and I thought, ‘I got to do something here.’ Seriously, I don’t even know what happened. I just got lucky. This is such a good feeling… you can never get enough of this. This is the reason you play hockey, for games like these, opportunities like these. Finland played so hard, so much pride, so much courage to come back. For us to come out on top on Johnson’s goal, it’s unbelievable right now. I’m so proud of this group.”

Said Canada goalie Dylan Garand: “I pushed out, he kind of passed it and the puck went up and over me, and I looked back and ‘Mac’ just pulled it off the line. Oh my God, what a feeling. Then we go down and score … there’s no better feeling right now.”

Joshua Roy (Montreal Canadiens) and William Dufour (New York Islanders) each scored, and McTavish had two assists for Canada, which had its 34th top-three finish. McTavish, the captain, was named Canada’s player of the game. Garand made 29 saves for Canada, which won seven straight tournament games, outscoring its opponents 41-14.

Aleksi Heimosalmi (Carolina Hurricanes) and Joakim Kemell (Nashville Predators) each scored, and Juha Jatkola (2023 NHL Draft eligible) made 29 saves for Finland, which had its 17th top-three finish and first since 2020 (third place).

Canada, which was 0-for-7 with 12 shots on the power play, won 6-3 when the teams played in the final game of the preliminary round Aug. 15.

Roy gave Canada a 1-0 lead at 11:18 of the first period, scoring on a backhand from the slot after McTavish took the initial shot at the right post.

Dufour scored on a snap shot from the top of the right circle for a 2-0 lead 48 seconds into the second period. Defenseman Olen Zellweger (Ducks) had the primary assist to finish with a tournament-high nine assists.

Heimosalmi pulled Finland within 2-1 on a wrist shot from the top of the right circle through a screen by Samuel Helenius (Los Angeles Kings) at 4:09 of the third period.

Kemell tied the game 2-2 after controlling a seam pass from Topi Niemela (Toronto Maple Leafs) and scoring on a shot from low in the left circle at 10:46.

“It was a nice pass from Topi and I had an empty goal, so I just shot it in,” Kemell said. “We played very well and it’s disappointing that we lost. I’m very proud of our team.”

Canada is 26-9 with six ties against Finland at the WJC. The teams played against each other in the WJC final for the first time on Saturday.

“We just gave it everything, put everything on the ice and let’s see what happens, and that’s what we did,” Niemela said. “It’s hard to win in Canada, against Canada.”

Consolation game

Sweden 3, Czechia 1 — Jesper Wallstedt (Minnesota Wild) made 27 saves to help Sweden win the consolation game and finish third in the tournament.

“We really didn’t want to leave this place without a medal, and we got out here today with full confidence and wanted that medal a little bit more than the Czech,” he said.

Wallstedt, who allowed eight goals in five games in the tournament, made 11 saves in the first period, nine in the second and seven in the third.

“Making saves look easy is the way I want to play, that’s my style of game,” Wallstedt said. “I want to make it look as easy as possible. That’s my game plan and I want to make as many small moves as possible and when I need to get out of my comfort zone and make those game-winning saves, I want to do that. I felt good, I felt like the pucks were coming to me and they were hitting me and that’s always a good sign.”

Fabian Lysell (Boston Bruins), Isaac Rosen (Buffalo Sabres) v Linus Sjodin (Sabres) scored for Sweden, which finished in the top three for the 20th time and the first time since a third-place finish in 2020.

Michal Gut scored and Tomas Suchanek (2023 draft eligible) made 20 saves for Czechia.

Lysell gave Sweden a 1-0 lead 14:22 into the first period. He skated past Czech defenseman Jiri Tichacek (2023 draft eligible) and down the right wing before scoring on a wraparound.

Gut tied it 1-1 at 13:30 of the second period when Jan Mysak’s (Montreal Canadiens) point shot deflected in off his left leg in the slot on the power play.

Rosen scored 1:49 later on a wrist shot from the top of the right face-off circle after a face-off win by Theodor Niederbach (Detroit Red Wings) to give Sweden a 2-1 lead at 15:19.

Sjodin made it 3-1 at 16:34 of the third period on a shot from the right face-off circle that beat Suchanek on the far side.

“I think we put everything into that game but didn’t have the luck to win it in the end,” Suchanek said. “They played really well. It was a really tough game and I should have saved that second goal … it decided the game. We came so close but it just didn’t work out.”

Czechia had two power play opportunities in the third period when it was a one-goal game, but Wallstedt denied two shot attempts. Czechia finished 1-for-3 on the power play.

“I think he’s been the best goalie in the tournament,” Sweden coach Tomas Monten said regarding Wallstedt. “He has tremendous experience but he’s a tremendous person and a leader, and if you could put a ‘C’ on the goalie, he’d have it for sure. He’s calm and makes plays around the net. He fumbled the puck sometimes, but the feeling on the bench is that because he’s so calm, he sorts it out and everyone just says, ‘OK.’

“Jesper’s a tremendous goalie and that’s something for the Minnesota Wild to work with.”

The game was the last for Monten at World Juniors. The Swedish coach led his country to three top-three finishes (second place in 2018) in six years.

“That was a tough loss yesterday (against Finland in the semifinals),” captain Emil Andrae (Philadelphia Flyers) said. “We had to regroup, come together as a group and we talked about it and we have a responsibility for our country and, of course, Tomas Monten, too. It was his last game and we came together and said we were going to do it’s for him, so I’m happy for him.” staff writer Guillaume Lepage and independent correspondent Derek Van Diest contributed to this report

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