Canada got the revenge it desperately carved — and is golden again at the world junior hockey championship.
Dylan Guenther scored his second goal of the night at 6:22 of overtime as the tournament hosts survived a blown 2-0 lead in the third period to defeat Czechia 3-2 in the final of the world junior hockey championship Thursday in Halifax.
The Arizona Coyotes forward took a pass from Joshua Roy on a 2-on-1 to give his country its 20th title at the men’s under-20 event.
Shane Wright, on his 19th birthday, had the other goal for Canada. Thomas Milic made 24 saves.
Canada is the first team to repeat since the country won five straight gold medals between 2005 and 2009 after Connor Bedard and seven other returnees also topped the pandemic-delayed summer showcase in Edmonton.
Bedard was named tournament MVP.
Jiri Kulich and Jakub Kos replied for Czechia. Tomas Suchanek stopped 35 shots.
The Czechs beat a disjointed Canada for the first time in 3,285 days when they picked up what was at the time a stunning 5-2 victory on Dec. 26, and appeared in the final for the first time since their only gold-medal triumphs in 2000 and 2001.
Czechia — the country commonly known as the Czech Republic — finished fourth in summer and earned its first medal since 2005. The United States picked up a wild 8-7 overtime victory against Sweden to take bronze.
Bedard, the Canadian phenom who rewrote page after page of both tournament and national records book in Halifax, was held off the scoresheet Thursday.
It didn’t matter.
The Czechs came close inside an ear-splitting Scotiabank Centre midway through the first period when Gabriel Szturc hit the crossbar.
Unhappy with Czechia’s exuberant celebrations following its Boxing Day victory, the Canadians made good on their first power play.
Guenther, one of three NHLers loaned to the national team for the tournament along with Wright and Brandt Clarke, blasted a shot bar down for his sixth of the tournament at 12:41 before the familiar strains of “Heave Away” by The Fables rang around the rink washed in red and white.
Milic, who made 43 saves in a 6-2 semifinal victory over the Americans, was excellent again as the period wore on with stops on Kulich and Martin Rysavy.
Caedan Bankier nearly made it 2-0 for Canada early in the second on a short-handed breakaway, but the goal was waved off for goalie interference after he crashed into Suchanek.
The Czech netminder then made big stops on Zack Ostapchuk and Logan Stankoven on separate one-on-one sequences before Wright struck.
The No. 4 pick in last summer’s NHL draft, who had an up-and-down tournament until Thursday, grabbed the puck in the neutral zone and fought off a defender before stepping past two more and roofing a backhand upstairs on the shortside for his fourth at 4:35.
Wright watched every world junior final on his birthday growing up, and the crowd responded after his goal by singing “Happy Birthday” for the Canadian captain.
Brennan Othmann, who turned 20 on Thursday, nearly made it 3-0, but Suchanek made to massive pad stops on a man advantage.
Wright nearly scored on a 2-on-1 midway through the third on a chance that would have sealed it, but the Czechs finally got on the board with 7:30 seconds left in regulation when Kulich pop a rebound off the post home.
Jakub Kos then tied it to stun the Canadians and the partisan crowd just 54 seconds later after Clarke couldn’t clear the puck twice from his own zone to force the extra period.
Guenther then etched his name in world junior lore.
Projected to go No. 1 at the 2023 NHL draft, Bedard set a boatload of records in the Maritimes.
The scintillating 17-year-old from North Vancouver, B.C., Bedard owns the national record with 23 all-time points and 17 all-time goals at the world juniors.
Bedard also established a new mark for the most points by a Canadian in a single tournament with 23, owns the national record with 14 assists at one event, and registered the most points by a player aged 18 or younger.
Bedard’s 19 assists all-time are one short of the national mark held by Ryan Ellis, while he was a point shy of tying Markus Naslund and Raimo Helminen for the second-most by a player from any country at a tournament.
He’s also the first player in history to score four goals twice — doing it against Austria this summer and again in Halifax.
Canada beat Slovakia 4-3 in overtime in the quarterfinals on Bedard’s jaw-dropping solo effort before roaring back from a two-goal deficit to defeat the United States in the semis.
The Czechs walloped Switzerland in the quarters and scored late in regulation to set up a 2-1 OT victory against Sweden before falling to the pre-tournament favourites in the final.
Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press