Canada secures gold medal over Finland with dramatic overtime win

Canada went undefeated in the tournament and claimed gold in dramatic fashion with an overtime winner by forward Kent Johnson on Saturday. (Getty Images)
Canada went undefeated in the tournament and claimed gold in dramatic fashion with an overtime winner by forward Kent Johnson on Saturday. (Getty Images)

Joshua Roy opened the scoring, William Dufour added an insurance marker in the second period to give Canada a 2-0 lead in the 2022 World Juniors gold medal game. Then, Finland came roaring back in the third period, with goals from Aleksi Heimosalmi and Joakim Kemell to even the contest at 2-2.

Kent Johnson scored the winner in overtime as Canada emerged with a 3-2 victory over Finland to capture the gold medal.

Here are five takeaways from Canada’s gold medal victory.

Canada finally faced its first genuine test of the tournament and almost drowned

This entire tournament was a cakewalk for the Canadian side, benefiting from numerous NHL prospects on its roster, along with the gem of the 2023 class, Connor Bedard, who looks like he could play in the league already. But after breezing throughout the entire tournament without a challenge, Canada almost drowned during its first test.

Taking a 2-0 lead into the third period, it looked like smooth sailing for Canada, but the hosts grew complacent, and a desperate Finnish side pounced. Aleksi Heimosalmi got a shot through traffic, beating Dylan Garand cleanly, and it was a one-goal game. And with Canada on the ropes, Joakim Kemell tied the game up at 2-2. Finland took a 30-29 shot advantage into the overtime period, and were it not for some quick thinking from Mason McTavish (more on him below), the Canadians would be staring at the ground with the Finnish anthem blaring.

History won’t remember this, but Canada should feel somewhat lucky to be champions.

Kent Johnson joins long list of tournament greats with OT winner

It had been a cruel tournament of sorts for Kent Johnson, prior to the semifinal. Johnson led all players in shots, slot attempts, and a handful of other advanced categories, but only had one goal to his name prior to Friday’s game against Czechia. Johnson pulled off the Michigan in the round robin for his lone contribution on the scoresheet, but he stepped up his game to a new level on Friday with a goal and two assists. And now he will be part of the TSN tournament montage forever after notching the overtime winner Saturday.

Matt Halischuk, Jonathan Toews, Jordan Eberle and Akil Thomas all live in the memories of many Canadians for their timely goals in the final, and Johnson will join this company, memorialized for a key overtime winner during a dramatic final against Finland.

Power play disparity killed Finland in gold medal game

Finland entered Saturday’s contest operating at an eye-popping 53.9 percent clip on the power play. No, that’s not a typo, Finland really scored on 14-of-26 chances on the man advantage throughout the tournament, elevating a forward corps that pretty much relied on Joakim Kemell, Aatu Raty and Roni Hirvonen exclusively for their offensive production.

Unfortunately, Finland couldn’t draw a penalty to save its life in the gold medal game and were often on the back foot, as Canada drew five man-advantage opportunities. It was only until Olen Zellweger slashed an opponent on a breakaway that Finland was afforded an abridged power play attempt. It lasted all of four seconds, after Kasper Puutio dangerously steered Zack Ostapchuk into the boards with 4:39 remaining, drawing a two-minute minor for boarding and negating the power play.

Canada didn’t even have to fend off the lethal Finnish power play in the final, and one can only think that it would’ve bridged the talent gap Saturday. It’s not quite an indictment of the officiating, but in an event that has pretty much operated as a revenue generator for Hockey Canada, one can look at the scorecard sideways.

Mason McTavish completed one of the best individual tournaments in Canadian history

Mason McTavish will certainly be in the NHL next year, and at times, he looked like he was too good for this summer edition of the World Juniors, with a number of players opting out to get ready for professional training camps. He was the best player in the tournament from the moment he took the ice, and finishing with 16 points, McTavish not only led the World Juniors in scoring, it was the fourth-best single-tournament display by a Canadian, ever.

McTavish also made the best defensive play of the tournament, swiping a puck off the goal line in the early stages of overtime, to keep the contest alive.

Where will McTavish be remembered among tournament greats? It’s hard to say, considering the diminished talent pool this summer, along with the fact that many people tuned out of the tournament entirely. As a standalone performance, it rarely gets better than McTavish’s 2022 showing.

It’s time to continue to investigate Hockey Canada’s action plan following sexual assault scandal

Before the tournament started, I wrote about how absurd it was to cover the tournament without being critical of Hockey Canada. To the point at hand, the IIHF held what amounted to its state of the union and Hockey Canada wasn’t invited to the event, IIHF president Luc Tardif told reporters.

“We have been following what is going on. It is a national affair and it’s not good for ice hockey. I’m happy that the investigation will be reopened. When we know the facts and those involved, we are going to take our responsibility but only after the official investigation,” Tardif said.

“The most important thing is the investigation of the police and the legal system. Hockey Canada will have to give us the same level of information as to the hearing committee. We met with the chair of the board and had good discussions about the process. We will then refer to the IIHF Ethics Board to analyze how Hockey Canada treated this case, whether it was in accordance with our Statutes and Bylaws.”

Hockey Canada is currently undergoing its own governance review from former Supreme Court of Canada judge Thomas Cromwell, which will be expected to provide recommendations at the annual board meeting in November. It doesn’t mean we have to wait until November to keep pressing Hockey Canada for how it plans to implement its action plan, one that was met with resounding skepticism from journalists, fans, and survivors of sexual assault. Here’s a reminder to keep the governing body accountable.

More from Yahoo Sports