Logan Stankoven and Dylan Garand were busy catching up on text messages and media requests on Monday (Aug. 22), both still riding high after winning gold for Canada on Saturday at the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton.
“It’s been unbelievable, going from playing in the gold medal game and the atmosphere and the fans and just how loud it was and the crazy sequence there in overtime to win the gold medal on home soil,” said Stankoven, the 19-year-old forward from Kamloops.
“It’s such a great feeling and experience for myself, Dylan and the rest of our team. It’s been a crazy last couple days and something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Stankoven, who will toil for his hometown Blazers next season, racked up four goals and 10 points to finish third in team scoring and tied for fourth in tournament scoring — and he saved a magic moment for the Golden Goal.
The toe-drag assist on Kent Johnson’s overtime winner in a 3-2 win over Finland will be seen on highlight reels for decades to come, in part because it followed one of the most improbable saves in tournament history.
“I’ve seen it a few times now,” Stankoven said. “It’s one of those things you dream of, just being a part of that moment. For [Mason] McTavish to knock that puck out of mid-air and off the goal line and for us to come back down and score … the building just erupted. It’s something I wish I could go back to in time and kind of experience that feeling again of Kent putting that puck in the net. The celebration was just unbelievable.”
Garand, the 20-year-old goaltender from Victoria, said McTavish’s goal-line heroics might just constitute the greatest save in world juniors history.
“It was crazy,” said Garand, who was in the backup role when Canada won silver at the 2021 world juniors. “It was kind of like a pass. I think it went off a guy’s skate and up and over me and I just remember watching the puck go by me. I turn around and I see McTavish scraping it off the goal line.
“After the game, I was on Twitter. I didn’t realize he actually batted it out of mid-air. What a save. I’ve honestly never seen a better save in a better moment, in the gold medal game in overtime. It will definitely, in my opinion, go down as probably the save of the tournament’s history.”
Garand, the former Blazers’ netminder who is expected to play next season in the New York Rangers’ organization, had an outstanding world juniors, posting a 6-0 record and .925 save percentage.
“There was definitely a little summer rust,” said Garand, who turned aside 29 shots in the final. “It’s definitely different playing on that stage, too. There’s tons of pressure. You feel that and learn to deal with that throughout the tournament. I felt I got better and better as each game went on.”
The golden moment on Saturday doubled as a 58th birthday present for Garand’s father, Loren, who was in the crowd and living vicariously through his son.
“Well, it’s tough to describe because you’re overwhelmed with pride and joy for his accomplishments,” Loren said.
“To have it on my birthday, just to make it even more of a special occasion to win gold, with the crowd and a lot people knowing it was my birthday, wishing me luck and Dylan luck, it was so surreal and overwhelming. The pride oozed out of me, for sure, that day.”
Loren was fearing the worst when the Finns roared back from two goals down in the third period to tie the game at 2-2.
“I’m going, geez, we’re not going to win,” Loren said. “This is not going happen again. We’re maybe going to lose the gold medal. But that play by McTavish was just unbelievable. It was so exciting. And then with that great play by Logan to make that pass over to Johnson and to bury the gold-medal-winning goal, I just couldn’t stop screaming and yelling and cheering.”
Canada posted a 7-0 mark for a record-extending 19th world junior hockey title.
The event was originally scheduled for last December and January in Red Deer and Edmonton, but was postponed due to rising COVID-19 cases.
Attendance and TV ratings for the summer tournament took a hit, with high ticket prices, a Hockey Canada sexual assault scandal and the absence of perennial contender Russia among likely contributing factors.
More than 13,000 fans were at Rogers Place for the title tilt on Saturday.
“There was quite a bit of media,” Garand said. “It didn’t feel like it was underviewed, It was good. For us, we are just focused on hockey. We got the chance to go back and finish the tournament, so we wanted to get the job done.”
Stankoven is the third Kamloopsian to win gold at the world juniors, following in the footsteps of Joe Hicketts (2015) and Mark Recchi (1988).
“Not very often does a kid from Kamloops or even just a kid from B.C. get the chance to represent their country on the national stage and at world juniors,” he said. “To bring home a gold medal to the City of Kamloops and friends and family back home, it’s amazing.”