Epic quotes after an epic final
by Lucas Aykroyd|21 AUG 2022
After Canada's thrilling 3-2 gold-medal win over Finland in sudden-death overtime, here's what players from both team had to say about the climax of the 2022 IIHF World Juniors in Edmonton.
photo: Chris Tanouye / HHOF-IIHF Images
The 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship gold medal game between Canada and Finland was truly a showdown for the ages. After the host Canadians edged the Finnish comeback kids 3-2 in overtime on Kent Johnson’s goal, IIHF.com was there to catch up with players from both sides.

Here are their thoughts on the epic final, their teammates, the Canada-Finland rivalry, the upcoming 2023 World Juniors in Halifax and Moncton, and much more.

Mason McTavish

On saving Canada by batting the puck out of mid-air at the goal line in overtime: To be honest, I got pretty lucky. The stick was in the right place at the right time. It was pretty crazy. I was pretty tired too. I just thought I'd get off the ice. And then KJ [Kent Johnson] was just putting the puck in the net. So it was pretty crazy. I’m thankful I was able to get a stick on it, I guess.

On equalling Wayne Gretzky and Eric Lindros’ single-tournament output with 17 points: That's pretty crazy. Hopefully I'm gonna have a quarter of those guys' careers. Obviously they're something else. They're in the Hall of Fame for a reason. So it's special. And credit my teammates. They're helping me out the whole time.

Kent Johnson

On how he scored the sudden-death winner: I go to the backhand and the five-hole had opened up. Obviously there was a lot more room than that. Luckily I was able to bag the rebound there. So yeah, it was just huge!

On what it felt like in overtime: Super-exciting! Obviously, not the kind of situation you want to be after being up 2-0, but everything worked out.

On how the 3-on-3 overtime format fits his style: It's big-time moments in 3-on-3. There's so much space out there and obviously you're not dumping the puck or really grinding in the corner as much as it's all just skill and IQ. So definitely it fits.

Olen Zellweger

On Mason McTavish: I thought he was unreal as a captain. Led our team well and had a huge save there! That's unbelievable. And on top of that, he's just a great player, great person.

On the possibility of returning to the 2023 World Juniors: Coming to this tournament, the experience and what you learn is invaluable. And coming back, I'll have a better understanding of how hard it is to win and how committed and tight as a group you need to be to come out on top.

On racking up 11 points as a D-man: I think a lot of credit's due to my teammates there. Playing with great players helps you a lot. So it's awesome, but I think it's even better that we won gold.

On having the Canadian power play go 0-for-7 in the final: That's frustrating. I think everyone can agree we had our challenges there. And they were killing well, they got some good saves. Sometimes [pucks] don't want to go in, but we still stuck with it. We still just believed in our group that we'd step up 5-on-5 or, in this case, in overtime.

Logan Stankoven

On his World Junior journey: It's been a lot of ups and downs. Obviously, it's a whole different situation for myself. Back in December, I was more the 13th or 14th forward. you know, trying to find my spot in the lineup. Obviously coming back with some guys missing, I was in a little bit of a bigger role. I tried to embrace it as much as possible. I thought as the tournament went on, myself and my teammates were able to create a lot more chances for success.

On getting to set up Kent Johnson for the winner: I think it's a good way to end things off. Obviously, he's made some great passes and plays to me, and I was able to capitalize on it. So for me to kind of return the favour, it was a good feeling.

On McTavish’s game-saving play in OT: I was on the bench. So I couldn't really see much. But I think a lot of us thought it at first maybe it went in the net and he batted it out of the air, but then we got a closer look at it. Nobody really said anything. And then, hopped on the ice and we scored the goal. So there's just chaos after that.

On what he remembers about the winning goal: I'd probably just say how loud the crowd was. I remember the puck going over to Kent. I think he missed on the first chance and then he got the rebound and everybody just went nuts. Then he had that wide-open net and he put it in there. I guess it's just one of those things where you black out. It was unbelievable.

On the intensity of the final: We were in a great spot. We knew that they weren't gonna back down and they were going to give it all they got. They responded with a couple of goals there. And all it takes is one shot. It was quick and fast hockey out there. And obviously having the fans here, they were super-loud and made it great.

On having multiple Canadians return to play in Halifax in December: That's huge if you can have that many guys returning, guys that have gone through this process already and know what it takes to win and how hard it is. Give credit to Finland. They fought back hard and made it a really close game there all the way till the end. It'll be interesting to see how many guys come back. It's a quick turnaround.

On the difference between winning U18 Worlds gold in Texas last year and winning the WJC: U18 was nice, but this is just so much different. It's just a way better feeling, obviously. It's nice to win gold no matter what. But the U18 was in Texas and this tournament was on home soil in front of a great crowd. And it was a pretty dramatic ending there in overtime.

William Dufour

On the post-game ambience in Canada’s dressing room: We just cheer for each other. We're happy for each other. We're champions for life. We're together and we're gonna fly back home tomorrow. Right now, it's just a nice moment to enjoy everything with the boys.

Roni Hirvonen

On Finland’s overall IIHF success in recent years: It's almost unbelievable to have that many gold medals during the past years. We had a chance to take a gold one more time but didn't succeed. Still, it's a huge thing and a feeling that there is a lot of success. We had a good team that didn't win today, but maybe next year the next age group will do it.

On whether he’ll appreciate the silver medal later: Probably. But now it feels really bad.

On how Finland approached the final: We just had nothing to lose. Last game ever in junior hockey. I mean, we have big hearts in this team, and I think we showed that in the last period.

On appreciating his teammates: This is just a helluva team: great teammates and staff and everything. I'm proud of this team.

Aleksi Heimosalmi

On his pride in Finland’s performance: I think we played really well. And the third period was really good. We had a lot of chances. It was such a tight game. Either team could win. I mean, we were at the goal line! Close call. 

On playing in front of goalie Juha Jatkola: Really good! You don't need to worry if he's stopping the pucks.

Topi Niemela

On what coach Antti Pennanen said during the timeout after Canada made it 2-0: Let's just play our own game and see how it goes. Let's put everything on the ice. Let's play as a team and with big heart.

On Finland’s perfect PK in the final: It's been so bad in the games before. Now we focused more on how we can't let them score any goals in games like these. Maybe this was a little booster.

Aatu Raty

On Juha Jatkola: He was great. I feel like we had we had we had two or three really good goalies and every single one of them could have played every game. But yeah, he played absolutely unbelievable.

On how he’s feeling: I feel like we won this silver medal. It's a great accomplishment. I'm really proud of all the guys. And I'm not saying I'm lacking motivation, but thinking about this feeling now, it makes me want to work out. 

On his pride in Finnish hockey as a whole: So proud. I feel like we're definitely trending in the right direction. All the junior national teams have been doing well, and the men's team has been unbelievable. 

Antti Pennanen

On the resemblance between this WJC team’s style and that of Jukka Jalonen’s Olympic and Worlds teams:It's that kind of style to play. It's part of the culture. We respect our history and we have a good knowledge. There are lots of good coaches in Finland and good knowledge about the hockey. So we have a good cooperation between Jukka Jalonen and between the other coaches. So that helps a lot. 

On the growing rivalry between Finland and Canada: I don't know. Today was a huge battle. For us, it's going to be like that, of course. We hope Canada and Sweden and USA and Czechia and those kinds of countries can improve their games, and they are going to challenge us. But now it's like that, and we are happy about that. Maybe we are going to be rivals.