The story behind Canada’s world junior gold medal win
Akil Thomas, 18, broke the tie
Toronto’s Akil Thomas usually gets nervous before a big game — so nervous he feels sick.
But not last night.
On Sunday, the 18-year-old said he felt totally cool heading into Team Canada’s gold medal game against Russia at the world junior championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
“I just felt like my time was coming,” Akil said. “I was just destined to score.”
And score he did.
Canada's Akil Thomas reacts after scoring the fourth and final goal during the gold medal game at the world junior championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic on Jan. 5. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)
The game was tied 3-3, with only four minutes left in the final period, and both teams were hungry for the win.
That’s when Akil buried the puck in the net to give Team Canada a dramatic, come-from-behind victory.
The Los Angeles Kings prospect, who plays with the Niagara Ice Dogs in the Ontario Hockey League, scored only one goal during the tournament — but it was arguably the most important goal of all.
Team Canada was down 3-1 in the third period.
Then Calen Addison bounced the puck off Connor McMichael’s skate and into the net — making the gap a bit smaller.
It took captain Barrett Hayton — who was so badly injured on Saturday his teammates didn’t think he’d even be able to play — to tie the game.
Akil said his team owes everything to Barrett, who pulled out the stops and played through the pain.
"We couldn't have won that game without him,” Akil said. “He's a hero."
When asked if it hurt to hoist the championship cup with his injured shoulder, Barrett grinned.
"That thing was light as a feather," he said. "Best feeling in the world."
This is Canada’s 18th world junior gold medal.
With files from The Canadian Press