Canada wins gold on home ice

Members of Team Canada rejoice after winning the gold medal in overtime at the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Junior Championship in Halifax.

HALIFAX: For the first time in the history of a tournament that features the best under-20 hockey players in the world, Canada lost their opening game of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship, and went on to win gold at home.

Written almost like it was crafted from the sports god’s themselves, Canada defeated Czechia 3-2 in overtime to win the gold medal at the Scotiabank Centre in the province’s capital on Jan. 5, redeeming a Boxing Day loss to the same team that opened the tournament on Dec. 26.

Photos by Drake Lowthers
Seattle Kraken Shane Wright, who scored a remarkable backhand goal in the finals, was all smiles after he captained Canada to repeat as World Junior champions.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Captain Shane Wright told reporters while wearing a gold medal and holding the championship trophy, on the day he turned 19-years-old. “I couldn’t be more proud of those guys, I couldn’t be more proud of this group. It still sort of hasn’t sunk in yet that I won a gold medal at the World Juniors.”

Dylan Guenther scored Canada’s golden goal as they survived a late third period onslaught that saw Czechia score two unanswered goals with less than six minutes left to tie the game 2-2.

“I almost forgot it was overtime that it was do or die. It was a nice play by (Clarke), two-on-one, with a nice pass,” Guenther said. “These are the moments you want to be in as a kid, like you dream of playing in the gold medal game, in overtime, with the crowd behind you.”

Golden goal scorer Dylan Guenther (left), Tyson Hinds (middle), and Nathan Gaucher sing “O’ Canada” at the top of their lungs with the rest of Halifax following their gold medal overtime win over Czechia.

In the round robin tournament, Canada would go on to defeat Germany 11-2, Austria 11-0, and Sweden 5-1, resulting in a second place rank in Group A with nine points and a 3-0-1 record.

Richmond MLA Trevor Boudreau, who took in the Canadian game on New Year’s Eve and three others at the World Juniors, suggested while Nova Scotia is lucky to have multiple Quebec Major Junior Hockey League teams, having the best of the best here for an international tournament was any hockey lover’s dream.

“For a long time now, I’ve been following the World Juniors since the 1990s, when I was a kid playing hockey,” Boudreau told The Reporter on Jan. 5. “And to have the opportunity to have them in our province was a great thing for fans and spectators alike.”

The MLA suggested while his two kids aren’t hockey kids, they fell in love with the atmosphere.

“For me being a huge hockey fan my whole life, to bring my kids to show that feeling of passion and get them that sense of how Halifax took this on,” Boudreau said. “It was something they never experienced before and you could get a sense that it was a thrill for both of them.”

In the quarter-final game, Canada squeaked out a 4-3 overtime win over Slovakia, that saw the projected first overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft Connor Bedard score the goal of the tournament, which sent the Scotiabank Centre into a frenzy.

Connor Bedard (left) and Adam Fantilli, made their way over to a particular spectator, took her phone, and recorded a video after defeating Czechia 3-2 in overtime.

After trailing early to their rivals south of the border by two goals, Canada went on to score six straight to finish their semi-final match up against the Americans 6-2, giving them a birth in the gold medal game with a re-match against Czechia.

Following the gold medal game, when asked about the tournament he had, Bedard, who is only 17-years-old, refused to talk about himself.

“I don’t want to talk about myself, I want to talk about us and what we accomplished,” Bedard told reporters. “All these guys are my brothers, and we’re going to have this together and we’re going to cherish that. It’s an unbelievable accomplishment for us.”

Zack Ostapchuk is seen skating around the ice celebrating their golden moment with the fans at the Scotiabank Centre on Jan. 5.

Speaking on the local east coast hospitality, the teenager said the support was more than he could have ever imagined.

“I’ve never been to the Maritimes at all, but now (Halifax) is one of my favourite cities in the world,” Bedard said. “I want to thank them and the whole country, but Halifax especially for all the support they gave us, they really made this really special for us.”

Members of Team Canada celebrate winning the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship following a 3-2 overtime win over Czechia at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax on Jan. 5.
Previous articleSAT to purchase three new accessible vehicles to expand services
Next articleEverWind gets access to Crown land for wind project
Drake Lowthers has been a community journalist for The Reporter since July, 2018. His coverage of the suspicious death of Cassidy Bernard garnered him a 2018 Atlantic Journalism Award and a 2019 Better Newspaper Competition Award; while his extensive coverage of the Lionel Desmond Fatality Inquiry received a second place finish nationally in the 2020 Canadian Community Newspaper Awards for Best Feature Series. A Nova Scotia native, who has called Antigonish home for the past decade, Lowthers has a strong passion in telling people’s stories in a creative, yet thought-provoking way. He graduated from the journalism program at Holland College in 2016, where he played varsity football with the Hurricanes. His simple pleasures in life include his two children, photography, live music and the local sports scene.