Russia completed the biggest comeback in world junior championship history to beat Canada 5-3 and win the gold medal in Buffalo on Wednesday night.
It was Russia’s first gold medal since they won in 2003 over Canada in Halifax. For Canada, it was a second straight silver medal after they lost to the USA 6-5 in overtime in last year’s final in Saskatoon.
Canada cruised to a 3-0 lead after two periods in a game that had the pro-Canadian crowd rocking and the Canucks in full control of the play. Ryan Ellis, Carter Ashton, and Brayden Schenn each scored to chase Russian starting goalie Dmitri Shikin on 18 shots.
But in the opening minutes of the third period, the game changed dramatically. Artemi Panarin and Maxim Kitsyn both scored from close range just 13 seconds apart to stun the Canadians and the crowd to pull to within 3-2. Just over four minutes later, Vladimir Tarasenko wired a one-timer past Mark Visentin to tie the game.
In all, the Russians
scored their trio of comeback goals in just 4:56.
Then with less than five minutes to play, Panarin potted his second of the game past Visentin to give Russia its first lead. Nikita Dvurechenski scored an insurance goal with 1:16 to play to ice the game for the Russians.
When the final buzzer sounded, Team Russia stormed the ice in a raucous celebration while the Canadians watched in stunned silence.
“This is the worst feeling I’ve ever had,” said Canadian defenceman Tyson Barrie.
“I don’t think we ran out of gas, they just took over,” said Canada’s Zack Kassian. “Hockey is a weird sport. Sometimes you have momentum swings and you just can’t stop it. We didn’t fold the tent. They just kept coming and coming and we stopped getting the bounces and it made us look like we were standing still.
“We were ready to go in the third, but they just took off and we couldn’t find our game.”
Things started well enough for Canada when captain Ellis fired home a power-play goal to open the scoring at 4:50 of the first. Ashton added a goal late in the period to double the lead, and Schenn scored his 8th of the tournament in the second period to give Canada a three-goal advantage.
With a goal and an assist, Schenn finished with 18 points, which tied him with Dale McCourt (1977) for the most points by a Canadian in one tournament.
“It’s pretty tough to take right now, hard to believe,” said Schenn. “If only you could go back in time and do it over again I’m sure it would be a different result for our team. It is what it is, it obviously wasn’t meant to be for us. It was a tough third period there.”
It was disclosed after the game that Schenn played despite suffering a separated shoulder in Sunday’s quarter-final win over Switzerland.
Russian goalie Igor Bobkov relieved Shikin after he was pulled, and stood up to hold Canada off the scoresheet for the remainder of the game. Canada had the overall edge in shots, 38-27.
“We’re the best team in the world right now and we proved it,” said Russian forward Yevgeni Kuznetsov. “We always believed because we are Russians and we have the best team.”
Team Canada head coach Dave Cameron tried to stay positive after the disappointing result.
“Take away that third period collapse and we played some really solid hockey,” said Cameron. “We almost got the result we wanted. We did more right than wrong.”
Canadian defenceman Calvin de Haan was asked to compare this loss to last year’s defeat against the Americans.
“A thousand times worse,” de Haan answered. “It’s disappointing. I’m just in shock now.