Canada defeated Sweden tonight to claim the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championship. The Canadian team was defined throughout the tournament by their incredible depth. With only Cale Makar as a Top 10 NHL Draft Pick on the team, it was the team’s superior depth that led them to the gold medal.
13th forward Tyler Steenbergen was the hero, tipping in a Conor Timmins point shot with just 1:40 left to play. His goal broke open a game that had been tied 1-1 for almost 30 minutes. He got added ice time in this game after Jonah Gadjovich was benched for a first-period penalty. Alex Formenton scored into an empty net to make it 3-1.
Captain Dillon Dube gave Canada a 1-0 lead in the second pairing, shelving a shot into the top corner, over Swedish goalie Filip Gustavsson early in the second period. However, that lead lasted less than a period as Tim Soderlund tied the game with a short-handed goal with 6:53 to play in the second.
Canada Wins 2018 World Junior Hockey Championship
Canada’s power play was deadly in the tournament, clicking at 57% and scoring at least one goal in every game before tonight. However, the Swedes killed all five Canadian powerplays (plus a sixth in the last minute of the game with Canada already up two goals). The teams best chance came when Taylor Raddysh hit the post with under five minutes to go in the third.
Throughout the tournament, Makar quarterbacked things from the blue line, while Sam Steel, Jordan Kyrou, and Drake Batherson were other key contributors up front. Kale Clague, Conor Timmins, and Victor Mete were also key parts of the blue line. Behind them, Carter Hart was the team’s star netminder.
These are just some of the names that made the Canadians a nearly unstoppable juggernaut in the tournament. Their only loss, being a shootout loss to the Americans in a game played outdoors, in a snowstorm, at Orchard Park’s New Era Field.
Sweden, led by top-rated 2018 NHL Draft prospect Rasmus Dahlin, and Vancouver Canucks top pick Elias Pettersson proved to be Canada’s toughest competition all tournament long. The Swedes had won all six of their games and were the only undefeated team in preliminary round play.
Earlier in the day, Team USA defeated the Czech Republic by a score of 9-3 to win the Bronze Medal. Kieffer Bellows finished the tournament with nine goals to break Jeremy Roenick‘s American record for most goals at a World Junior Hockey Championship tournament.
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