Canada Captures Gold at World Juniors

Photo Credit : Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images

For the second straight tournament Canada captured gold at the IIHF World Junior Championship thanks to an overtime winner by a Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) alumni.

Former Northern Alberta Xtreme (NAX) forward Dylan Guenther scored the ‘Golden Goal’ 3:38 into overtime as Canada defeated Czechia 3-2. At the 2022 event in Edmonton, AB this summer, former BWC Academy forward Kent Johnson was the hero for Canada with an overtime goal of his own against Finland.

The 2023 World Juniors, which took place in Halifax and New Brunswick from December 26, 2022-January 5, 2023, saw nine CSSHL alumni play for Canada.

Among the 22 players on Team Canada included 9 CSSHL alumni:

  • Caeden Bankier – Kamloops Blazers/WHL (BWC Academy)
  • Connor Bedard – Regina Pats/WHL (West Van Academy)
  • Colton Dach – Seattle Thunderbirds/WHL (OHA Edmonton)
  • Dylan Guenther – Arizona Coyotes/NHL (Northern Alberta Xtreme)
  • Thomas Milic – Seattle Thunderbirds/WHL (BWC Academy)
  • Zack Ostapchuk – Winnipeg Ice/WHL (Northern Alberta Xtreme)
  • Reid Schaefer – Seattle Thunderbirds/WHL (OHA Edmonton)
  • Logan Stankoven – Kamloops Blazers/WHL (Yale Hockey Academy)
  • Olen Zellweger – Kamloops Blazers/WHL (OHA Edmonton)

Bedard, Ostapchuk, Stankoven and Zellweger all represented Canada at the 2022 World Juniors, taking home a gold medal after defeating Finland in overtime in the Gold Medal game. Guenther was part of the 2022 World Junior team during the initial December 2021 based tournament that was eventually shutdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to an injury, he was unable to participate in the re-run this past summer.

Underage player Bedard was named MVP of the tournament after leading all skaters with 23 points in 7 games. His 23 points at a single World Junior Event are the third most all time behind Swedish stars Peter Forsberg (31) and Markus Naslund (24), and most among all Canadian players, passing Dale McCourt and Brayden Schenn (18). Bedard’s 36 career points and 17 goals are both Canadian records, surpassing Eric Lindros (31) and Jordan Eberle (14).

With 11 points in 7 games Stankoven, along with Bedard, were named as two of Canada’s Top Three Players of the Tournament. Stankoven sits ninth all time among Canadian skaters with 22 career points at the World Juniors.

A forward from Surrey, BC, Bankier had one assist in seven games while playing a key role on the penalty kill for Canada.

Dach suffered an unfortunate tournament ending injury in the round robin, finishing the tournament with two points in four games.

Guenther finished the tournament with seven goals and three assists, including two goals in the gold medal game.

Milic played in six games, starting five including the semi-final against the U.S.A. and gold medal game against Czechia. He finished with a 1.76 GAA. 932 Save %, and 5-1-0 record.

Ostapchuk, a forward from St. Albert, AB, scored two goals and one assist while playing key role on the penalty kill alongside Bankier.

Schaefer played in all seven games for Canada, adding one assist and two penalty minutes.

Zellweger recorded six points in seven games giving him a career total of 18 points at the World Juniors, second among all Canadian defenseman, 7 behind long time NHLer Ryan Ellis.