Canada vs. Finland takeaways: Mason McTavish’s goal-line stop helps Canadians win gold at the 2022 World Juniors

They say hockey is a game of customs. If you need more proof, just ask any of the members of the Canada or Finland 2022 World Juniors team.

As with any medal game, there was plenty of drama Saturday night in Edmonton at the gold medal game. Canada gambled away a two-goal lead in the third period as Finland forced overtime and nearly completed the comeback. It took a sensational defensive play from Mason McTavish to deny a sixth gold medal for Finland; He wiped the puck off Canada’s goal line as it went into the net.

Moments later, Kent Johnson grabbed his own rebound and scored, leading Canada to a 3-2 victory in overtime. It was a chaotic and exciting end to the summer tournament that saw Canada win its 19th gold medal and second in the last three years.

McTavish was honored as MVP of the tournament as well as Best Forward. The captain added two points in the last competition to finish the tournament on 17 points, with Wayne Gretzky and Eric Lindros earning the second-highest points in a World Juniors tournament by a Canadian.

While it wasn’t the normal season for the IIHF event, it gave fans an ending that will last through the rest of the summer and beyond. And the good news is that we can do it all again in just over four months.

MORE: Who has won the most World Juniors?

The Sporting News has three key takeaways from Canada’s gold medal win:

Three takeaways from Canada’s World Juniors gold medal win against Finland

Mason McTavish’s exploits on the goal line

McTavish was on course to tie or break the Canadian World Juniors’ points record for a single tournament. He dropped a point. You’d think such a finish would be the most memorable part of his performance, but it turns out he’ll be remembered forever, not for a goal, not for an assist, but for a sensational defensive play.

Finland was inches away from winning gold. After a broken game behind the Canadian net, Finland ended up with the puck in front and Canada climbed. Topi Niemala got a pass and slammed it into the net. As Dylan Garand was down, the puck went over his shoulder and into the net.

That is, until McTavish smacked the puck out of the air, landing just short of the goal line, and then wiped it out of the crease. It was one of the most impressive plays we’ve seen not only in World Juniors but in hockey.

Less than a minute later, Johnson scored the winning goal at the other end. While McTavish’s 17 points certainly helped Canada reach the gold medal game, it was his defensive play that made the biggest difference.

Canada’s power game is silent

Canada had the chance to extend their 2-0 lead and put the game out of reach. In fact, it had seven of them.

Finland – statistically the team with the worst penalty at the World Juniors – took seven penalties against Canada, who entered the contest on an 8-16 power play. The Canadians went 0 to 7 with a man advantage, which allowed Finland not only to stay in the game but also to gain momentum.

MORE: McTavish, Stankoven list biggest movers and losers from World Juniors 2022

The top unit of Johnson, McTavish, Olen Zellweger, Connor Bedard and Logan Stankoven had their chances. The group formed a roof formation with Zellweger at the head, Stankoven on his left and either Johnson or McTavish on his right. Time and time again, Zellweger would try to feed Johnson or McTavish for one-timers or have them slide a pass through the slot to Stankoven on the other side.

While the group drew some looks, not enough dangerous chances were generated considering how much power play time the team was given. In the end it didn’t matter, but it would have been the main talking point of the game if Finland had won.

Dylan Garand’s game online

It’s hard to call “underrated” a goalkeeper who finished the tournament with a 1.98 goal average and a .925 save, but that’s the case with Garand.

He was sensational throughout the tournament. He couldn’t do much against Finland’s goals in the gold medal game. The first came as a result of a screen in front of him, and the second was a one-timer feed across the slot to a wide-open player.

Sure, he wasn’t tested nearly as often per game as the other goalies, but he made the saves he needed. Only Sweden’s Jesper Wallstedt, who was named the tournament’s best goalkeeper, finished with better numbers.

While players like McTavish, Johnson, Zellweger, and Stankoven deserve the credit they deserve, you can’t discredit Garand and his stellar gameplay on the web.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *