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Coquitlam's Thomas Milic stands tall as Canada wins 2023 World Junior gold

The Dr. Charles Best Secondary grad stopped 24 of 26 to help Canada win back-to-back titles in overtime over Czechia.

Thomas Milic has backstopped Canada to a historic 20th World Junior Hockey Championship title.

The Coquitlam goaltender made 24 saves on 26 shots from Czechia, winning his fifth game of the 2023 tournament in Halifax by a score of 3-2 in overtime.

It's the 19-year-old Dr. Charles Best Secondary grad's second international gold in his young career after winning with the Canadians at the 2021 IIHF men's under-18 world hockey championships.'

"You know, you can't even imagine what this is like. Right now, I'm just so happy," Milic said in a live post-game interview with TSN.

"I'm just so proud to be Canadian right now."

This comes a day after Milic recorded a 43-save performance Wednesday (Jan. 4) and 6-2 win over the United States to send the hosts to its fourth straight World Juniors final.

The Seattle Thunderbird was named Canada's semi-final player of the game, and called the experience "incredible" from his point of view. 

"That’s definitely the best moment of my hockey career and maybe of my life. It was pretty special," he said in a Canadian hockey League (CHL) release after the semis victory, referring to the fans chanting his name throughout the contest.

"Just a shoutout to my family as well. That last name."

B.C. teammate Connor Bedard praised Milic for keeping Canada in play despite going down 2-0 early against the U.S.

"There's only so many words to describe him," the 2023 World Juniors MVP stated.

"He was unbelievable. Without him I don't know if we win that game. They had so many great looks and he’s so good. We trust him so much back there."

Milic ended his first World Juniors stint with a 1.78 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage (SV%), stopping a total of 138 pucks in five starts between the pipes.

He came in relief of fellow netminder Benjamin Gaudreau in the Boxing Day (Dec. 26) opener and turned aside every shot from Czechia despite losing 5-2 to the eventual silver medalists.

The Coquitlam Minor Hockey Association alum is also the second Tri-Cities athlete in as many years to claim gold in the tournament after Port Moody's Kent Johnson scored the overtime golden goal 4.5 months earlier in the rescheduled 2022 event.

He also helped Canada win its first back-to-back men's under-20 gold medal since 2008 and 2009.

The national squad's game-by-game results were as follows:

  • 3-2 (OT) win over Czechia (gold medal game)
  • 6-2 win over United States (semi-finals)
  • 4-3 (OT) win over Slovakia (quarter-finals)
  • 5-1 win over Sweden
  • 11-0 win over Austria
  • 11-2 win over Germany
  • 5-2 loss to Czechia