Champion, captain, Canada.
Barrett Hayton and Team Canada achieved greatness at the 2020 IIHF World Championship tournament, winning the gold medal with a thrilling 4-3 come-from-behind victory over Russia on Sunday.
Hayton wasn't initially expected to play due to an upper-body injury suffered during Canada's 5-0 semi-final win over Finland on Saturday, but you learn to expect the unexpected.
"He wasn't going to be denied," Team Canada GM Mark Hunter told TSN's Mark Masters. "We were going to have to use handcuffs to handcuff him to the dressing room, that's how much he wanted to play."
And that decision paid off, both for Hayton and for Canada. He scored the game-tying goal with 8:39 remaining in regulation, depositing a power play laser with a wrist shot from the right circle, high to the far side.
Akil Thomas followed up to score the game-winning goal with just under four minutes left. Canada held on for the win.
"Winning gold is just the best feeling in the world," Hayton, who captained Canada, said. "Coming together like this as a group in just 29 days is phenomenal. We have such a close group; everybody bought in, came together and that showed."
Hayton, of course, will return to Arizona and join the Coyotes for the rest of the season, of whom many in the organization were watching as the tournament progressed.
"It's a great experience to be able to represent your country, be counted on as a leader, and win," said President of Hockey Operations and General Manager John Chayka. "Barrett was able to accomplish this, and it will be an experience he can draw on throughout his career. He faced some adversity throughout the tournament and showed great leadership and perseverance. We're proud of him and the tournament he had. We're excited to get him back in Arizona."
He wasn't the only Coyotes prospect to medal; Victor Soderstrom won a bronze medal following Team Sweden's 3-2 win over Finland on Monday.
In total, the Coyotes' seven prospects participating combined for 36 points (15G, 21A) during the tournament.
"As a manager, it was exciting to watch the future of our organization compete on the biggest stage and have success," Chayka added. "All players played key roles for their teams and performed very well. It's safe to say this is the deepest and highest quality prospect group we have ever had. We look forward to continuing to develop these players."
Hayton led the Coyotes' pool of prospects with 12 points (6G, 6A) while Soderstrom finished the tournament with six (1G, 5A). Valentin Nussbaumer registered seven points (2G, 5A) with Switzerland, Matias Maccelli five points (2G, 3A) and Aku Raty three points (2G, 1A) with Finland, and Jan Jenik three points (2G, 1A) with Czech Republic before suffering a tournament-ending injury.
Lead Photo Credit: Petr David Josak // Footer Photo Credit: Ryan Remiorz