The 2021 IIHF World Championship came to an end today with Canada taking home the gold medal in a win over Finland. The Canadians won 3-2 in overtime against the Finns, on an Ottawa connection no less between Connor Brown and Nick Paul, to finish off an unlikely run. Though it sounds strange, no one expected Canada to come out on top after several early losses in group play and just narrowly making it into the playoff rounds. However, they proved that they should never be counted out, becoming the first team to ever win the tournament after losing their first three games.
The United States won the bronze medal earlier in the day, defeating Germany 6-1. The Americans actually exited group play with the points lead in the tournament, but due to Canada’s struggles it led to the two hockey powers clashing in the semifinals with Canada coming out on top. Germany continues its rise as a hockey nation, finishing fourth but nearly reaching the final with a 2-1 loss to Finland in the semis.
Other countries that impressed included Slovakia, which reached the playoff rounds behind 12 points in group play, and Kazakhstan, who totaled 10 points in group play and would have reached the next round – knocking out Canada – if not for a surprise regulation loss to Norway. Every nation in the 16-team tournament other than Italy picked up at least one win and four points. It was a tournament to forget for Sweden though; the elite hockey country only notched 10 points in group play and missed the cut.
Individually, it is no surprise that most of the leading scorers of the tournament were impact NHL players from the top teams in the tournament. Brown led the way with 16 points, while Canadian Andrew Mangiapane of the Calgary Flames was named MVP as one of the top scorers and sharing the lead in goals. American Conor Garland of the Arizona Coyotes finished second in points and Canadian Adam Henrique – who centered a line with Brown and Mangiapane – also among the leading scorers. However, two additional players in the mix will come as a surprise. Boston Bruins property Peter Cehlarik of Slovakia tied Mangiapane and Henrique with 11 points and Arizona Coyotes prospect Liam Kirk tied Mangiapane for the tournament lead with seven goals. In net, Calvin Petersen of the Los Angeles Kings was stellar for the U.S., recording a .953 save percentage and 1.29 GAA, but unheralded Finnish netminder Jussi Olkinuora was just as good. The former University of Denver standout and AHL/ECHL veteran has quietly been putting up impressive numbers for five years in Europe in the Liiga and KHL and may very well be on NHL radars now.