Team Canada’s Drive For Five consecutive gold medals at the World Junior Championships went from dream to reality tonight as they scored a convincing 5-1 victory over a powerful Swedish team. It was an especially sweet victory this time around for Canada as they got to do it in front of their home crowd in Ottawa in a packed house that included Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Canada wasted no time establishing a lead, when fan favorite P.K. Subban scored early in the first on the powerplay to stake Team Canada to a 1-0 lead. They would never look back from that moment on, leading the game the rest of the way, and playing with controlled emotion to dominate against the Swedes.
The only chink in Canada’s armor tonight may have been the number of penalties they took, and goaltender Dustin Tokarski was under siege in the second period when Team Canada took 4 straight penalties. However, like his teammates Tokarski picked the gold medal game to really show his talent, only allowing 1 goal on 40 Swedish shots. Tokarski had looked shaky in earlier outings against both Team USA and the Russians, but found his game tonight, showing a poise reminiscent of Carey Price as he turned away puck after puck.
Angelo Esposito had a spectacular game for Canada, scoring a beautiful backhand goal, and constantly causing headaches on the forecheck. Team Canada’s gold medal has to be sweetest of all
for Esposito who was cut from 3 consecutive World Junior teams before finally sticking this year in his 4th and final attempt.
John Tavares was kept off the board again tonight and finished the tournament tied for the goal scoring lead with young phenom Nikita Filatov with 8. However, though he did not score in the last two games the performance by Tavares throughout the tournament has strengthened his position over Swedish prospect Victor Hedman as the number one overall pick in the upcoming NHL draft, and the fact that he was named the tournament’s top forward, and tournament MVP was just another notch in his belt.
So, Team Canada has put an exclamation point on yet another World Junior Championship, leaving their country with bragging rights for yet another year. Though the final whistle blew only a few minutes ago I am already looking forward to next year’s World Junior tournament in Saskatoon.