Former Trail Smoke Eater and BCHL MVP Kent Johnson scored the biggest goal of his life on Saturday night as he potted the game-winning goal in overtime of the championship game at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, giving Canada a 3-2 win over Finland and a gold medal.
Early in the extra frame, Johnson took a pass from linemate Logan Stankoven and was sent in alone on Finnish goaltender Juha Jatkola. Johnson deked to the backhand, was stopped by the goaltender’s left pad, but stuck with it and buried the rebound to give Canada the gold medal.
Canada was up 2-0 with less than 20 minutes to go in regulation before Finland stormed back with two goals in the third period to force overtime, setting up Johnson’s heroics.
“I take passes on my backhand all the time and I usually try to score on the five-hole, but I had a lot of time and I was able to bang home the rebound,” Johnson said. “It was a super exciting overtime period, but not really the situation we wanted to be in after going up 2-0. It means the world to all of us [to win gold]. It has been a crazy couple of months, but everyone wanted to win so bad and I am happy that we were able to do it at home.”
It’s been quite a year for Johnson who represented Canada at the World Juniors, Olympics and World Championships all in the same year. He managed to score at least one goal in all three tournaments, becoming only the fourth player to accomplish the feat, alongside Saku Koivu (Finland), Evgeni Malkin (Russia) and Eeli Tolvanen (Finland). He was also part of the previous version of the 2022 World Junior team that started the tournament in December before it was shutdown due to the pandemic.
Johnson piled up three goals and six assists for nine points in seven games, tying for sixth in tournament scoring.
The Port Moody, B.C. product played two BCHL season with the Smoke Eaters from 2018 to 2020. He piled up 61 goals, 86 assists and 147 points over 111 regular-season games. In his second year in the league, he led the BCHL in points (101), goals (41) and assists (60) and was named league MVP.
Following his BCHL career, he joined the University of Michigan where he was once again a standout. In his two years of college hockey, he totaled 64 points in 58 games.
After his freshman season at Michigan, Johnson was drafted fifth overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft by the Columbus Blue Jacket. He made his NHL debut last spring following his college season, playing nine games for Columbus and chipping in with three assists.
Canada’s gold-medal win was their 19th overall at the World Juniors and their third in five years.