TAMPERE, Finland – A three-goal third period helped Canada’s National Men’s Team win gold at the 2023 IIHF World Championship, downing Germany 5-2 in the gold medal game at Nokia Arena on Sunday.
Ontario Junior Hockey League graduates on the team include a pair of former Toronto Jr. Canadiens, Jack McBain (Arizona Coyotes) and Jake Walman (Detroit Red Wings) and former Stouffville Spirit forward Michael Carcone (Arizona).
Another selection, Tyler Toffoli (Calgary Flames), played for the Jr. Canadiens as a minor hockey affiliate player. Scott Laughton (Philadelphia Flyers) was an AP with the OJHL’s St. Michael’s Buzzers.
Sammy Blais (Montmagny, Que./St. Louis, NHL) netted the game-winner off a rebound just under five minutes into the third period, his second goal of the game and fourth in three contests, to give Canada its 28th gold medal at men’s worlds.
“This feels really good. We have been in Europe for a month and have waited for our moment to play for a gold medal, and it is really special to win in front of our friends and family that travelled here,” Blais said. “Our group built chemistry so quickly and it feels like we have played together for a long time, and we are excited to bring this gold medal back home to our fans.”
Canada fell behind 1-0 just over eight minutes into the game before Blais, who was named Player of the Game, buried a one-timer off a Peyton Krebs (Okotoks, Alta./Buffalo, NHL) pass to tie the game. Germany responded with a goal 13:47 into the middle frame before Lawson Crouse (Mount Brydges, Ont./Arizona, NHL) redirected a puck past German goaltender Mathias Niederberger on the power play to equal the score at 2-2 before the end of the second.
After Blais gave Canada the lead early in the third, Toffoli (Scarborough, Ont.) and Scott Laughton (Oakville, Ont.) added goals to secure the win and give Canada its 51st medal overall at the IIHF World Championship.
“I could not be more proud of this group. We battled through a lot of adversity and doubt to get to this point, and this win is so special,” Toffoli said. “We have such a close-knit team that came together quickly, and we always believed in each other. Everyone bought in and we played a great game today, and I am incredibly happy to be going back to Canada with a gold medal.”
Sam Montembeault (Bécancour, Que./Montréal, NHL) capped off a stellar tournament with a 21-save performance. A full game summary can be found at HockeyCanada.ca.
Following the gold medal game, MacKenzie Weegar (Nepean, Ont./Calgary, NHL) was named Best Defenceman of the tournament and was selected to the media all-star team. Crouse, Montembeault and Weegar were also named Team Canada’s three best players of the tournament following the semifinals.
“The commitment of everyone on our team was unbelievable. We knew we had to come here and play for each other and commit to a team game. We came here to represent Canada and make our country proud, and I am so blessed to be a part of this group,” said head coach André Tourigny (Nicolet, Que./Arizona, NHL). “Our players wanted to win so bad. They wanted to bring a gold medal back to Canada, and when you have that mindset you can accomplish great things, and we did that tonight.”
Canada finished the preliminary round in second place in Group B after wins over Latvia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Kazakhstan and Czechia. It booked a spot in the gold medal game after a 4-1 win over Finland in the quarterfinals and a 4-2 win over Latvia in the semifinals.
Since 1931, Canada has collected 28 gold medals at the world championship, to go along with 16 silver and seven bronze.