BUFFALO, N.Y. – Canada’s National Junior Team captured its 17th world junior gold medal following a 3-1 win over Sweden at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship on Friday.
In front of a raucous crowd of 17,544 fans, Canada opened the scoring less than two minutes into the second period on a goal from team captain Dillon Dubé (Cochrane, Alta./Kelowna, WHL). Sweden would score short-handed to make it a tie game through 40 minutes. Tyler Steenbergen (Sylvan Lake, Alta./Swift Current, WHL) scored his lone goal of the tournament – the eventual game-winner - in the final two minutes of the game before Alex Formenton (King City, Ont./London, OHL) sealed the championship with an empty-netter. In goal, Carter Hart - who was making his fifth straight start - turned aside 35 of Sweden’s 36 shots.
“I don’t even remember, I kind of blacked out on the play,” said Steenbergen of his golden goal. “All I had to do was put my stick on the ice and tap it in. Simmer made a great pass. I’m overwhelmed with emotions right now. It’s pretty exciting. I was struggling all tournament trying to find the back of the net, but I’m sure happy that one went in.”
Canada finished the preliminary round atop the Group A standings with a 3-0-0-1 record after posting wins over Finland (4-2), Slovakia (6-0), and Denmark (8-0), and dropping a 4-3 shootout decision to the U.S. The Canadians earned the chance to play for gold after defeating Switzerland (8-2) in the quarterfinals, and the Czech Republic (7-2) in Thursday’s semifinals.
“This feels good. Last year’s loss was difficult to take, but there was a lot of positives because in a shootout, it can go either way,” said head coach Dominique Ducharme. “It’s been a long year and we wanted to be playing tonight and make the most out of it.”
Along with capturing its 17th gold medal (1982, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2015, and 2018) Canada has also won silver 11 times (1975, 1976, 1977, 1986, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 20010, 2011, and 2017), and bronze six times (1974, 1978, 1983, 2000, 2001, and 2012).
Canada will next turn its attention to Vancouver and Victoria, B.C., when the cities co-host the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.