January 5, 2017
by Andrew Podnieks
Tyler Steenbergen scored the biggest goal of his life, with just 1:40 left in regulation, to break a 1-1 deadlock with Sweden and set up a 3-1 empty netter for Team Canada Gold.
Steenbergen had played just 3:17 through two periods, 37 seconds in the first, had but four shots in the entire tournament, and had yet to score.
“Steener”, who has scored more than a goal per game for the Swift Current Broncos this year (35G-27 games), played as the 13th forward on the team – a team without a single Top-10 NHL draft pick in the forward ranks. That hasn’t happened since 1979.
Depth, rather than star power, defined the Canadian team this year.
Coming into the game, 12 different forwards had scored. Drake Batherson (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles) lead with four, Sam Steele (Regina Pats) and Brett Howden (Moose Jaw Warriors) had three; six others had two. Only Steenbergen had yet to score.
The goal couldn’t have happened without Drake Batherson’s determined forecheck. His tenacity produced a turnover that led to a superb slap-pass from the point by Connor Timmins. It was deflected in front by Steenbergen, breaking a 1-1 tie and sending Canada on to World Junior gold for the first time since 2015.
“Timmer made an unbelievable pass through about two guys. At that point, all I needed to do was get my stick on the ice and tap itin,” Steenbergen said. “And after that happened, I just kind of blacked out. I still don’t really know what happened.”
“They made a perfect pass to the player off to the side,” Sweden goalie Filip Gustavsson described. “We missed that guy, and he directed it into the goal. I don’t know what I could have done differently.”
The win provided a double dose of revenge. One, for erasing terrible memories of the 2011 gold-medal game in Buffalo when the team blew a 3-0 lead in the third period. And two, for erasing more recent memories of a heart-breaking shootout loss to the United States last year in the finals.
“Coming into this tournament, there was a job that needed to be finished,” said winning goalie Carter Hart, who was named player of the game for Canada.
Canada won despite going 0-for-6 on the power play, which had been its forte all tournament. But the Swedes clearly did their homework before the game and not only neutralized the potent power play but scored short-handed as well.
“We didn’t focus too much on not scoring on the power play,” defenceman Cale Makar said. “I think the main thing is we got the win. Obviously, it would have been nice to capitalize on some of those chances, and we gave up a short-handed one, but in the end it didn’t matter.”
“I think everybody just trusted each other,” Makar continued. “We knew that even if the power play wasn’t clicking, we could still capitalize five-on-five. I guess that’s how we did it tonight.”
In all, Sweden had 22 PIMs to Canada’s 2 (10 of the former going to Oskar Steen for a last-minute misconduct).
For Sweden, the disappointment is bitter. It hadn’t won gold since 2012 and finished runner-up in the bronze-medal game for the last three years.
“There’s disappointment as a group that we lost the game,” said Timothy Liljegren.
“But I’m really proud of all the guys. There were a lot of guys who played with injuries. We gave 100 per cent. We don’t regret anything. It’s all about honour and pride. We just wanted to go out there and play 100 per cent and show all the fans watching in Sweden that we’re a good hockey team.”
Lias Andersson, upset by the loss, threw his silver medal in the stands.
“I didn’t want it,” he said. “The guy in the stands wanted it more than me, so I gave it to him.”
The first period proved that you don’t need goals for exciting hockey; you need only skilled players moving freely up and down the ice.
The Swedes didn’t get the start they wanted, though. Without doubt, the first thing on coach Tomas Monten’s checklist of what not to do was to not take penalties.
Canada had converted on nearly 60 per cent of all power plays through the first six games, and this was an aspect of the game that might well have decided gold.
Although Canada had a couple of good chances, Gustavsson stood tall and the danger was averted.A little later, the Swedes got a power play of their own, to no great effect. The Swedes had more shots in the first—16-9—but Canada had as many decent scoring chances. Both goalies were steady and letter perfect.
Not so in the second. Canada opened the scoring just 1:49 into the period on a couple of great plays by Jordan Kyrou and Dillon Dube.
That got both teams going, but the Swedes in particular stepped it up a notch. Defenceman Rasmus Dahlin made several fine rushes, creating some good scoring chances, but Hart was rock solid and square to the shooter on every puck that went his way.
As the third period progressed, shifts got shorter and players more cautious, but there were still moments of offense in what felt like an overtime period. Sweden won a faceoff in the Canadian end, and defenceman Jesper Sellgren ripped a shot off the post behind Hart.”Any time you’re in a game of this magnitude and the score is so close, you get a little cautious. But both teams were pressing a bit as well. We didn’t want to go to overtime,” Makar said.
A short time later, Boris Katchouk snapped a shot off Gustavsson’s shoulder that would have gone in but for the fine save.Canada had come perilously close to winning in regulation on its last power play when Taylor Raddysh tipped a shot off the post, but the puck stayed out, setting the stage for Steenbergen’s heroics.
|No.||Player||Pos||Shoots||Height||Weight||DOB||Hometown||Current Team||NHL Draft|
|2||Jake Bean||Defence||L||6’1||169||06-09-1998||Calgary, Alta.||Calgary (WHL)||CAR ’16 (1, 13)|
|3||Conor Timmins||Defence||R||6’1||182||09-18-1998||Thorold, Ont.||Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)||COL ’17 (2, 32)|
|6||Cal Foote||Defence||R||6’4||210||12-13-1998||Kelowna, B.C.||Kelowna (WHL)||TBL ’17 (1, 14)|
|7||Cale Makar||Defence||R||5’10||175||10-30-1998||Calgary, Alta.||U. of Massachusetts (HE)||COL ’17 (1, 4)|
|8||Dante Fabbro||Defence||R||6’1||192||06-20-1998||Coquitlam, B.C.||Boston University (HE)||NSH ’16 (1, 17)|
|9||Dillon Dubé||Forward||L||5’11||186||07-20-1998||Cochrane, Alta.||Kelowna (WHL)||CGY ’16 (2, 56)|
|10||Kale Clague||Defence||L||6’0||177||06-05-1998||Lloydminster, Alta.||Brandon (WHL)||LAK ’16 (2, 51)|
|11||Jonah Gadjovich||Forward||L||6’2||201||10-12-1998||Whitby, Ont.||Owen Sound (OHL)||VAN ’17 (2, 55)|
|12||Boris Katchouk||Forward||L||6’3||190||06-18-1998||Waterloo, Ont.||Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)||TBL ’16 (2, 44)|
|14||Maxime Comtois||Forward||L||6’2||199||01-08-1999||Longueuil, Que.||Victoriaville (QMJHL)||ANA ’17 (2, 50)|
|16||Taylor Raddysh||Forward||R||6’2||209||02-18-1998||Caledon, Ont.||Erie (OHL)||TBL ’16 (2, 58)|
|17||Tyler Steenbergen||Forward||L||5’10”||160||01-07-1998||Sylvan Lake, Alta.||Swift Current (WHL)||ARI ’17 (5, 128)|
|19||Drake Batherson||Forward||R||6’2||188||04-27-1998||New Minas, N.S.||Cape Breton (QMJHL)||OTT ’17 (4, 121)|
|20||Michael McLeod||Forward||R||6’2||195||02-03-1998||Mississauga, Ont.||Mississauga (OHL)||NJD ’16 (1, 12)|
|21||Brett Howden||Forward||L||6’3||191||03-29-1998||Oakbank, Man.||Moose Jaw (WHL)||TBL ’16 (1, 27)|
|23||Sam Steel||Forward||L||6’0||180||02-03-1998||Sherwood Park, Alta.||Regina (WHL)||ANA ’16 (1, 30)|
|24||Alex Formenton||Forward||L||6’2||175||09-13-1999||King City, Ont.||London (OHL)||OTT ’17 (2, 47)|
|25||Jordan Kyrou||Forward||R||6’0||177||05-08-1998||Toronto, Ont.||Sarnia (OHL)||STL ’16 (2, 35)|
|27||Robert Thomas||Forward||R||6’0||188||07-02-1999||Aurora, Ont||London (OHL)||STL ’17 (1, 20)|
|28||Victor Mete||Defence||L||5’10||178||06-07-1998||Woodbridge, Ont.||Montreal (NHL)||MTL ’16 (4, 100)|
|No.||Player||Pos||Catches||Height||Weight||DOB||Hometown||Current Team||NHL Draft|
|1||Colton Point||Goaltender||L||6’3″||220||03/07/1998||North Bay, Ont.||Colgate University (ECAC)||DAL ’16 (5, 128)|
|31||Carter Hart||Goaltender||L||6’2||180||08/13/1998||Sherwood Park, Alta.||Everett (WHL)||PHI ’16 (2, 48)|