FRISCO, Texas – For the first time since 2013, Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team has won gold at the IIHF U18 World Championship, defeating Russia 5-3 in the gold medal game on Thursday night.
After Matvei Michkov gave the Russians an early lead, Connor Bedard (North Vancouver, B.C./Regina, WHL) responded to a missed penalty shot with a top-shelf backhand that beat goaltender Sergei Ivanov. Dmitri Buchelnikov gave the Russians a 2-1 lead just over two minutes later, but Shane Wright (Burlington, Ont./Kingston, OHL) scored on the power play with 45 seconds remaining in the first period to even the score.
Brennan Othmann (Pickering, Ont./Flint, OHL) and Logan Stankoven (Kamloops, B.C./Kamloops, WHL) added goals in the second period to lift Canada to a 4-2 lead, but Russia pulled within one midway through the third. Wright sealed the win with his team-leading ninth goal of the tournament, an empty-netter that broke a Canadian record for most goals in a single IIHF U18 World Championship.
“This win means the world to me. It means the world to all of my teammates, our coaches and staff, and the entire country,” said Wright. “I could not be more proud of all the work that everyone has put in, how hard everyone has pushed and all the sacrifices we have made to get to this point. I am so happy for all the guys in our locker room.”
Benjamin Gaudreau (Corbeil, Ont./Sarnia, OHL) made 31 saves and was named Player of the Game. Following the tournament, Gaudreau was named Top Goaltender by the IIHF Directorate. He led the tournament with five wins, a 2.20 goals-against average and .919 save percentage.
“Tonight’s game was really exciting to be a part of. The last minute of the game felt longer than the rest of the game, so it seemed like it took a little while for the clock to finally hit zero,” said Gaudreau. “Once [Wright] put the icing on the cake with 40 seconds to play, the reality set in that we won. It was a huge win for us and it’s hard to describe the feeling, but we could not have done it with a better group of guys.”
A full game summary and recap can be found at HockeyCanada.ca.
Bedard, who finished tied for second in tournament scoring with 14 points, and defenceman Brandt Clarke (Ottawa, Ont./Barrie, OHL), who recorded seven points, were named to the media all-star team.
“I have had a great time coaching this team. It was a lot of fun to be able to bring the gold medal back to Canada, and I was very fortunate to have two great assistant coaches in Mike Stothers and Gordie Dwyer,” said head coach Dave Barr (Toronto, Ont.). “Ultimately you are trying to win the gold medal and you never know how a game like tonight’s is going to go, but we focused on what we were able to control and that gave us a great chance to win.”
Canada finished atop Group A with wins over Sweden, Latvia, Switzerland and Belarus, outscoring its opponents 28-5. It booked a spot in the gold medal game with convincing wins over the Czech Republic (10-3) in the quarterfinals and Sweden (8-1) in the semifinals.
Since 2002, Canada has won four gold medals at the IIHF U18 World Championship (2003, 2008, 2013, 2021), in addition to one silver (2005) and three bronze (2012, 2014, 2015).
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