A bad bounce here, a broken stick there, and some of the strangest misfires of an always-strange tournament sank Canada's hopes of a gold medal at the 2019 World Junior Championships on Wednesday, January 2. A hard-charging Finnish squad that wouldn't take no for an answer got the bounces and made some of their own in a 2-1 victory.
Ian Mitchell scored for Canada, while Aleksi Heponiemi and Toni Utunen replied for the Finns, with Utunen scoring the overtime winner. Michael DiPietro stood on his head, turning aside 39 of 41 shots in the loss, while Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 22 shots for Finland.
Mitchell's goal broke the scoreless deadlock midway through the second period when he followed up a rush by Barret Hayton and sniped home his first of the tournament over Luukkonen's left shoulder. Despite furious pressure by the Finns, it seemed DiPietro's heroics would be enough to steal a win.
Then, with just 46 seconds to play, Finland, who had generated so much of their own luck, got a little handed out to them. Eeli Tolvanen's shot from below the goal line hit Heponiemi in the shinpad and bounced off the paddle of DiPietro's stick, under his arm and into the net.
Overtime saw Canada's best chances of the game. Captain Max Comtois was stopped on a penalty shot early in the extra frame after teammate Evan Bouchard was hauled down on a breakaway. Under IIHF rules, head coach Tim Hunter was allowed to select his shooter. Though Comtois had been the team's best shooter in practice, according to Hunter, Luukkonen turned him aside.
Then, as Canada broke in 3-on-2, Noah Dobson appeared to have most of the net to shoot at on the one-timer. He made contact with the puck, but his stick shattered at the moment he pulled the trigger.
Back the other way came Finland, and Utunen took a shot that pinballed off the stick of a Canadian defender and over DiPietro's shoulder for the game winner.
The loss means that, for the first time in tournament history, Canada will not win a medal despite being the host country. Finland will face the surprising Swiss, who upset Sweden in another quarterfinal, on Friday.