By the Canadian Press
Hunter Shinkaruk scored his third goal of the game at 2:05 of overtime Sunday as Canada defeated Finland 5-4 to claim its first medal at the tournament since winning gold in 2008.
Canadian teams have had a hard time getting up for bronze-medal games in the past, but coach Jesse Wallin said his squad responded well in a tough situation.
“We showed a lot of character today responding the right way. This isn’t a tournament that we’ve historically medalled in very often,” Wallin said. “We fell a little bit short of our goal, but at the same time given the situation, we’re certainly happy coming home with something as opposed to nothing.”
Sam Reinhart and Brendan Gaunce had the other goals for Canada, which lost to the U.S. in Friday’s semifinal. Mathew Dumba had three assists for Canada, while Scott Laughton added a pair of his own.
The Americans downed Sweden 7-0 in the gold-medal game later Sunday.
Kelowna Rockets defenceman Damon Severson was the first Rockets since 2008 to play for the World U-18 team. That year Tyler Myers and Brandon McMillan made the team. Severson tied Canada’s roster with +7 rating through the tournament. In seven games, he had two assists, 8 PIMs and 8 shots on goal.
In the final Matt Murray made 29 saves to pick up the win for Canada against the Finns.
Wallin says the Canadian coaching staff tried to lighten the mood after the team fell 2-1 to the U.S. in Friday’s semifinal.
“We really tried to push on the players the importance of the game. We played four games in five nights so we took (Saturday) off and stayed off the ice and kept it light,” he said. “We didn’t want it to be a mood where everyone was dragging their tail and feeling sorry for themselves. We tried to keep it upbeat and stayed away from the rink to have a mental break.”
But Wallin says he asked his players to finish the tournament strong even though the gold medal was out of reach.
“We challenged them to step up and realize the importance of this game for the team and the program moving forward and each one of them as individuals,” he said.
Henrik Haapala scored twice and added two assists for Finland, while Artturi Lehkonen scored and had two assists.
Rasmus Ristolainen had the other goal for the Finns, who got 33 saves from Joonas Korpisalo.
Shinkaruk and Reinhart scored in the first period as Canada led 1-0 after one.
Haapala and Shinkaruk traded goals in the second before Gaunce made it 4-1 at 10:34 with a short-handed goal after Canada’s Josh Morrissey was handed a five-minute major and game misconduct for kneeing.
Lehkonen scored on that power play to make it 4-2 at 11:23 and Haapala added his second on another man advantage at 19:15 to cut the Canadian lead to one heading to the third.
“The Finns played really well, came at us and we didn’t get any help from the officiating through that stretch,” Wallin said. “I thought there were some tough calls against us.”
Ristolainen tied the score at 9:30 of the final period before Shinkaruk scored the winner.
“They got the early goal in the third period but we were able to stick to the details and push our way through it,” said Wallin, who added that he challenged Shinkaruk to be better in the bronze-medal game.
“I thought his game (Friday) in the semifinal was just OK and we needed him to be a difference for us. That’s why he was here,”
Wallin said. “He’s a game-breaking type of player and today he answered the bell and stepped up.”