While many of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization’s prospects at the Wolrd Juniors had earlier or less fortunate exists than anticipated, Finnish forward Kasperi Kapanen had the best finale of the bunch, scoring the overtime winner in today’s Gold Medal game.
Finland wins gold in OT pic.twitter.com/fkmHPGoD4x
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 5, 2016
The goal was Kapanen’s second of the tournament, and it capped off a whirlwind game. The Finns spent nearly three-quarters of the game trailing the Russians, but in the final ten minutes of the game, received goals from Sebastian Aho and Mikko Rantanen that put them ahead. While Russian captain Vladislav Kamenev appeared to decimate Russia’s chances at coming back with a heavily penalized outburst, the Russians tied the game with 6.9 seconds remaining.
A minute and a half into the overtime, Kapanen played the hero, circling behind the net to tuck the puck into a net left wide open by Alexander Georgiev. Kapanen finishes the tournament with two goals and three assists in seven games.
Now a national hero, Kapanen will take a few days to revel in the glory before returning to the Toronto Marlies as early as this weekend. Toronto plays a pair of games in Winnipeg against the Manitoba Moose on Friday and Saturday, but if he isn’t back by then, his return may come against Utica on Wednesday.
You have to imagine this is a big confidence booster for Kapanen, who was acquired from Pittsburgh in July. He was producing slightly below expectation with the Marlies before the tournament, with five goals and ten points in seventeen games in a more secondary role. A combination of illness, injury, and adjustment led to him averaging a little over a shot per game in that stretch. Hopefully, he’ll carry the swagger across the pond and use it to go on a roll here.
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 5, 2016