RIGA, Latvia – Canada’s National Men’s Team has won the gold medal at the 2021 IIHF World Championship, coming from a goal down in the third period to edge Finland 3-2 in overtime in the gold medal game Sunday.
Nick Paul (Mississauga, Ont./Ottawa, NHL) played the role of hero in the final, tapping in a cross-crease feed from Connor Brown (Toronto, Ont./Ottawa, NHL) 6:26 into the extra period to give Canada its 27th world title (including the years when the Olympic gold medallist was also recognized as world champion).
The Canadians are the first team to ever win gold at the tournament after dropping its first three games.
In a rematch of the 2019 gold medal game, it was the Finns who opened the scoring on a goal from Mikael Ruohomaa midway through the first period. Maxime Comtois (Longueuil, Que./Anaheim, NHL) responded on a Canadian power play early in the second to pull Canada even, but Finland retook the lead on a Petteri Lindbohm goal in the third.
Adam Henrique (Burford, Ont./Anaheim, NHL) tied the game on another Canadian man advantage with 7:23 left, finishing a no-look pass from Comtois to force overtime.
“We started off 0-3, not the start we wanted, but we came together as a group,” said Paul. “People counted us out, [but] we knew we were going to come together, work hard and take it in the end and we did. We made it closer than we wanted, but it was an unbelievable, hard-fought game and I’m super proud right now.”
“You get familiar with how Finland plays; they play such a structured and tight defensive game,” said Henrique. “We knew it was going to be a battle. We knew we were going to have to find a way to score a few goals to win because once they get a lead they are tough to come back on and they’ve proven that year after year.”
Darcy Kuemper (Saskatoon, Sask./Arizona, NHL) turned aside 29 shots to record his sixth win of the tournament. He was lights out in the playoff round, posting a .947 save percentage in wins over ROC, the U.S. and Finland.
A full game summary and recap can be found at HockeyCanada.ca.
“It feels great,” said head coach Gerard Gallant (Summerside, P.E.I.). “Obviously we were in a deep hole early in the tournament, but we kept getting better and better. Tonight was an exceptional game and Finland is a great team. We had to battle hard against them, come from behind and fortunately for us we got the break in overtime, but hats off to Finland, they’re a great defending champion and it was a great game tonight.”
After the game, Andrew Mangiapane (Bolton, Ont./Calgary, NHL) was named tournament MVP. He finished with seven goals – four of them game-winners – and four assists in seven games. He was also named to the media all-star team.
“I think [Mangiapane] came in and added an element that we needed at the right time,” said Henrique. “Him coming over was huge for our team [and] our team chemistry and it seemed to click on the ice, which was big for us moving forward.”
Despite losses to Latvia, and the U.S. and Germany, Canada posted wins over Italy, Kazakhstan and Norway before a shootout loss to Finland to cap the preliminary round. With a little bit of help along the way to advance to the quarterfinals, Canada earned a spot in the gold medal game with a 3-2 overtime win over ROC in the quarterfinals and a 4-2 semifinal victory over the United States.
For more information on Canada’s National Men’s Team, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along via social media on Facebook and Twitter.