It was a heartbreaking finale at the 2020 World Junior Championships for two Vegas Golden Knights prospects.
After one Vegas Golden Knights prospect in Ivan Morozov fired Team Russia to the Gold Medal game with an overtime winner against Team Sweden on Saturday, Team Canada stood in their way of tasting ultimate glory.
And, in what was a blockbuster contest, it was Team Canada who edged proceedings to get their hands on the 2020 World Junior Championship.
Both Golden Knights prospects in Pavel Dorofeyev and Ivan Morozov were held without a point in the Gold Medal Game, although both can be proud of their overall efforts on the big stage.
In a game that was plagued by a plethora of penalties, those who were watching had to settle for a scoreless first period.
The contest did explode into life in the middle frame, however, as Nikita Alexandrov got Team Russia on the board and you couldn’t have blamed Team Canada for having flashbacks to the 6-0 thrashing they suffered at the hands of the same opponent just over a week ago.
The star-studded Canadiens fought back though thanks to Buffalo Sabres prospect Dylan Cozens, although Team Russia regained the lead heading into the final period after Grigori Denisenko jammed the puck home.
Russia was getting some stellar goaltending from Amir Miftakhov, and that allowed them to increase their lead in the third period.
Maxim Sorkin received a sublime feed from Ilya Kruglov from behind the net and then proceeded to laser a shot over the shoulder of Joel Hofer.
That’s where the game took an interesting turn.
Team Canada hit back just 34 seconds later when Connor McMichael got a deflection on a Calen Addison shot, and that sent a surge of energy through the team.
It paid off when Captain Barrett Hayton, who had been a major injury concern before the game, led by example, put his team on his back and made it a tied game with an absolute rocket of a release.
The momentum was firmly on the side of Team Canada by that point and Akil Thomas emerged as the hero when he chased down a loose puck before getting to the net and backhanding home the game-winner.
It wasn’t over there, however.
Team Canada kept on taking dumb penalties and they could have faced a 6-on-3 situation, were it not for the puck clearing the glass but hitting a camera and thus nullifying a delay of game penalty.
That proved to be the final nail in Team Russia’s coffin and it was pure ecstasy for Team Canada, but heartbreak for Pavel Dorofeyev and Ivan Morozov.
It must have been a crushing moment for the two Vegas Golden Knights prospects to lose such an important game in that manner, although they will be better for the experience later down the road in their careers.
Overall, it was a productive tournament for Dorofeyev who finished with four points (three goals, one assist) in seven games, while Morozov signed off the 2020 World Junior Championships with two goals and one assist for three points in seven games.
Both Dorofeyev and Morozov will now return to Russia for the remainder of the year, but both gave Vegas Golden Knights fans an encouraging glimpse of the future once they are ready to make the leap to the NHL.