What a game.
The last game of the 2016 World Junior Hockey Championship was, in perfectly fitting fashion, the most exciting game of the tournament as Finland defeated Russia 4-3 in overtime to win the gold medal, sending the Finnish fans in attendance in Helsinki into an uproar.
Kasperi Kapanen had the Golden Goal, wrapping around the Russian net to tuck home the puck just 1:33 into the extra frame in front of a raucous home crowd.
It was a thrilling finish. The two teams traded leads all game long, but Russia found themselves down by one in the dying seconds. Ivan Provorov's shot with just seven seconds remaining bounced off of Andrei Svetlakov in front and into the net to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Russia has nothing to be ashamed of for their efforts, putting forth a strong game and an impressive tournament overall, falling just oh-so-short. With their award of silver the Russians have now won a medal in six straight events.
Finnish 17 year-old draft-eligible forward Jesse Puljujarvi put forth another great game, picking up two assists, and was named tournament MVP for his efforts. He finishes with 17 points in just seven tournament games. He's going to make one NHL team very, very happy at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
Finland takes home their fourth gold medal in world junior history, with their last coming in 2014. They also repeat the magic of 1998, when Finland also won gold on home ice in Helsinki.
United States Beats Sweden 8-3 To Win Bronze Medal
Earlier in the day a four-goal explosion in the second period was the difference-maker as the United States rolled on to a dominant 8-3 victory over Sweden to win the 2016 world junior bronze medal.
Tied 2-2 after the first period, the U.S. scored twice in the first four minutes of the second frame and then added two more in the final four minutes. Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic was stellar throughout the match, making 35 saves.
"I think we had a pretty good tournament, we came here to win gold, but unfortunately that didn’t happen," Nedeljkovic said. "Bronze, I guess, is the third best thing. Better than going home empty-handed."
"We played a good game today and overall a strong tournament so it's definitely something to be proud of," added forward Anders Bjork.
It is USA Hockey's first world junior medal since winning gold in 2013.
One of the hardest things for any team to do in the world junior tournament each year is to bounce back for the bronze medal game after losing the semi-finals, and this was the case for Sweden this year. The Swedes were perfect in the tournament right up until yesterday's 2-1 semi-final loss to Finland but didn't look like the same today.
"We didn't even give ourselves a chance to win, so there's no need to feel sorry for yourself," said Swedish forward and Detroit Red Wings prospect Axel Holmstrom. "They were simply the better team tonight."
It was the second year in a row where the Swedes failed to medal, following a gold and two silvers between 2012 and 2014.