World Juniors: Hamilton's Darnell Nurse named player of gold medal game
Darnell Nurse finished the tournament with a goal, 10 shots, and a plus eight rating
Canada is on top of the hockey world again after capturing the world junior championship title, ending a gold medal drought stretching back to 2009.
And while the country spends Tuesday morning swelling with pride, Hamilton has its very own reason to celebrate – local defenceman Darnell Nurse was named Canada's player of the game, and one of the team's three best players in the entire tournament.
- READ MORE: World Juniors: Canada holds off Russia to win gold
- PHOTOS: World Juniors: Canada-Russia thriller in pictures
Just how good was the Edmonton Oilers prospect? Well, he wasn’t on the ice for an even strength goal against for the entire tournament – which is an amazing feat considering how much ice time he gobbled up.
Nurse was a force patrolling Canada’s blue line the entire night, burying Russian players with huge checks and jumping into the rush on numerous occasions to showcase his impressive speed.
“I don’t know if there will ever be anything that feels better than how I feel right now," Nurse said after the game. "This is an incredible feeling, and I’m so fortunate to have had the opportunity to play in this team.”
“I couldn’t be more happy to be a part of this. There was just great leadership in the room and great guys to share it with.”
It was impossible not to notice Nurse as he battled for pucks in the corner, using his towering 6 foot 4 frame for every inch it was worth. He finished the tournament with a goal, 10 shots, and a plus eight rating.
"We were confident in our abilities," he said. "Obviously when you have this type of group, you have to be confident in what you’re capable of doing, and we were capable of doing some great things out there on the ice.
“We were still realistic to the fact that it was going to take a lot of great hockey in order to get to this point, and we’d need to push each other and push ourselves on a daily basis to capture this gold medal.”
Lots of people were heaping praise on the young prospect on Twitter after the game:
But it wasn’t an easy win. Canada built a four-goal lead on Russia and could taste gold pretty early – but by the end of the second period, it was a harrowing struggle just to hold on.
"We didn't panic or certainly tried not to panic," Sam Reinhart said.
There were moments of panic, but by the time Monday night was over, gold medals were hanging around the players' necks and they sang along with "O Canada" while locking arms on the blue-line on home ice at Air Canada Centre after a thrilling 5-4 victory.
The game was another classic in the passionate rivalry between Canada and Russia that began with the 1972 Summit Series. This will go down as another unforgettable piece of Canada-Russia history.
"This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and experience and we took advantage of it," Max Domi said. "It's awesome. No matter what happens in our lives, we're always going to remember this."
With files from Simon Dingley, The Canadian Press