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Team Canada captures gold at the World Junior Championship

Foote & Canada capture gold

Rockets' captain Nolan Foote and Team Canada beat Russia 4-3 to capture gold at the World Junior Championship on Sunday afternoon.

The redemption game comes a week after Canada was embarrassed in a 6-0 blowout to Russia and 18-year-old star Alexis Lafreniere left with what appeared to be a serious injury. Post-game their captain Barrett Hayton nearly caused a bit of an incident when he failed to remove his helmet during the Russian national anthem and Joe Veleno earned a one-game suspension for headbutting.

Canada was down 2-1 heading into the third, with the Russians netting another one halfway through the final period, and that's when the game changed.

Less than a minute later Connor McMichael notched his fifth goal of the tournament. Moments later, Canada on the power-play Hayton, who left the semi-final game against Finland with an apparent serious shoulder injury less than 24 hours prior, snipes one past the Russian netminder to tie the thing up. 

With less than five minutes remaining in the game, Akil Thomas plays hero as he chases down the loose puck before he backhands it far side, all while he's falling down on the ice. The eventual game-winner would be Thomas' lone goal of the tournament. He makes it count, as Canada bring home their 18th gold medal, the most in the tournament's history. 

Sunday also marked the fifth time Canada topped Mother Russia in the final since the gold medal game was first introduced in 1996. Russia has not won gold since 2011.

Lafreniere was named as Most Valuable Player, Best Forward, and a tournament all-star team member, in his second World Juniors. While, Hayton was named the MVP of the gold medal match and a tournament all-star member as well. 

Foote finished the tournament with three goals and two assists in seven games representing Canada. 

The 19-year-old was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round (27th overall) of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. No word on when he will be returning to the Kelowna Rockets lineup. 

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