Canada captured the gold medal in the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championships on Sunday with a 4-3 comeback victory over Russia at Ostravar Arena in the Czech Republic.
Los Angeles Kings prospect Akil Thomas scored the game-winning goal with 3:57 left in regulation.
It marked the eighth time since 2002 the Canadians and Russians faced off in the final of the annual U-20 tournament. Canada improved its record to 5-3 in those matchups with Sunday's triumph, and it's the country's record 18th title overall.
Sweden's Samuel Fagemo (Kings) finished as the event's leading scorer with 13 points (eight goals and five assists).
Notable Game Stats
Canada Goals: Dylan Cozens, Connor McMichael, Barrett Hayton, Akil Thomas
Russia Goals: Nikita Alexandrov, Grigori Denisenko, Maxim Sorkin
G Joel Hofer (CAN): 35 saves
G Amir Miftakhov (RUS): 26 saves
Sunday's Medal Results
Bronze: Sweden 3, Finland 2
Gold: Canada 4, Russia 3
Championship Game Recap
The final marked a rematch of a Group B game that saw Russia score a surprising 6-0 blowout win. It was subsequently the Canadians' worst showing of the tournament and the Russians' best showing of pool play. They went just 1-2 in their other preliminary games.
Sunday's battle for the title was far more competitive.
After a scoreless opening period, the teams traded power-play goals midway through the second.
Russia struck first as defenseman Yegor Zamula (Philadelphia Flyers) wristed a shot through sea of players that was deflected by Alexandrov (St. Louis Blues) in front for the goal.
Canada answered back less than two minutes later as Cozens (Buffalo Sabres) found a loose puck on the edge of the crease amid chaos in front of the Russian net and fired it home.
Denisenko (Florida Panthers), the tournament's leading scorer last year, pushed Russia back out in front with just over five minutes left in the middle period. He took advantage of a poor rebound allowed by Hofer (Blues) for his third goal of the event.
The Russians increased their lead to two halfway through the third courtesy of a Sorkin goal, but McMichael (Washington Capitals) got Canada back within one almost immediately with a tally of his own.
Hayton (Arizona Coyotes) pulled the Canadians back level just 10 seconds into a power play created by a cross-checking call on Dmitri Voronkov (Columbus Blue Jackets).
That set the stage for Thomas' heroics in the final minutes of an instant classic.
The 2021 World Junior Hockey Championships will take place in Alberta, Canada, with the cities of Edmonton and Red Deer serving as the host locations. Play begins Dec. 26, 2020.