HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — Dennis Williams and Olen Zellweger are gold medalists. Again.
Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, and Zellweger, Everett’s star defenseman, claimed their second gold medals from the World Junior Hockey Championships when Canada defeated Czechia 3-2 in overtime in the gold-medal game Thursday evening.
Former Edmonton Oil King Dylan Guenther scored the game-winning goal 6 minutes, 22 seconds into overtime as Canada claimed gold for the second straight tournament. Canada led 2-0 in the third period before Czechia rallied to tie it.
This was the second triumph for Williams and Zellweger. Williams was an assistant coach and Zellweger was a team member when Canada claimed gold at the coronavirus pandemic-delayed 2022 tournament in August in Edmonton, Alberta. Williams was the head coach this time around, while Zellweger was once again a key component of Canada’s defense.
Williams guided Canada to gold after a rocky start, as the Canadians opened the tournament with a 5-2 loss to Czechia. Canada won the rest of its group games to earn a spot in the quarterfinals. The Canadians then had to fight tooth an nail through the knockout stages, beating Slovakia 4-3 in overtime in the quarterfinals and the U.S. 6-2 in the semifinals in a game that was far closer than the final score indicated.
“There was a lot of pressure put on them from the get-go,” Williams told the Associated Press following the gold-medal game. “It would have been easy just to pack it in, especially after that first game. I love how they came to the rink every day hungry wanting more.”
Zellweger, a 19-year-old from Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, finished with six assists in seven games in the tournament, which was seventh in scoring among defensemen. This was after racking up 11 points in seven contests in the 2022 tournament. His 17 career points at World Juniors is the second-most by a defenseman in Canadian history, only trailing Ryan Ellis’ 25. Zellweger led all players in time on ice in both the gold-medal game (27:54) and the tournament as a whole (164:14).
Regina Pats star forward Connor Bedard, who was the runaway leading scorer at the tournament with 23 points in seven games for Canada — despite being two years younger than most of the participants at 17 — was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.