Canada’s National Junior Team has won its 18th gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship with a come-from-behind 4-3 win over Russia in the gold medal game Sunday.
Niagara IceDogs’ captain Akil Thomas scored the game-winning goal with 3:58 to go, the third of three Canadian goals in the final 11 minutes of the game. All three of those third period goals came from players who’ve spent time in the OHL.
“I am so happy for this team,” said Thomas. “The guys worked so hard through the whole process. The guys battled tonight, and we found a way to get it done. This might be the happiest day of my life.”
Connor McMichael (London Knights) and Barrett Hayton (Arizona Coyotes) also scored in the third.
“I am so proud of this group. The resiliency they showed throughout the tournament is a tribute to the quality young men they are,” said head coach Dale Hunter (London Knights).
“This group dealt with everything from injuries to illness to penalties, and they found a way. They bought into the system and gave everything they had for the team. We had a tremendous coaching staff and I was very proud to be a part of it.”
Following the tournament, Alexis Lafrenière was named Most Valuable Player and Top Forward, Joel Hofer earned Top Goaltender honours and both joined Barrett Hayton on the Media All-Star Team.
Canada will defend its gold medal on home ice when the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship comes to Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta.