OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Akil Thomas scored the winning goal in the final period and Canada rallied from two goals down to beat Russia 4-3 in the final of the world junior hockey championship on Sunday.
It was the 18th title for Canada, the most successful team in the tournament.
Thomas backhanded the puck past goaltender Amir Miftakhov with 3:58 left to avenge a 6-0 loss to Russia at their group stage game, the worst loss for Canada in the history of the tournament.
Dylan Cozens, Connor McMichael and captain Barrett Hayton also scored for Canada. Goaltender Joel Hofer made 35 saves.
Nikita Alexandrov, Grigori Denisenko and Maxim Sorkin netted Russia’s goals.
The Canadians were looking to bounce back from a disappointing sixth-place finish last year when it hosted the event. They won the previous title in 2018 while Russia was seeking its first title since 2011.
It was the ninth final between the two rivals since the playoff system was introduced in 1996. Both teams had won four of them before their encounter on Sunday.
The Canadians were 3-1 down after Sorkin’s goal 8:46 into the final period. McMichael deflected a shot into the net with his leg and Hayton tied it at 3-3 on a power play with a wrist shot from the right circle, with the two goals coming in a span of 2:01.
McMichael added an assist and Calen Addison had three assists. Alexis Lafreniere, who is projected to be the No. 1 pick at the 2020 NHL draft, contributed two assists to finish the tournament with four goals and six assists from the five games he played.
Alexandrov broke the goalless deadlock 9:37 into the the middle period, deflecting a shot by Yegor Zamula from the point on Russia’s power play.
Canada answered on a 5-3 advantage 1:24 later with Cozens netting on a rebound.
Denisenko restored Russia’s one-goal lead, pushing the puck under the pad of Hofer still in the frame.
Earlier, Samuel Fagemo scored his eighth goal to become the best scorer of the tournament and help Sweden beat defending champion Finland 3-2 and take bronze.