A year ago, Julien Gauthier was part of the Canadian junior team that failed to qualify for the semifinal, falling in the quarterfinal of the 2016 World Junior Championship. A Finnish forward named Sebastian Aho had a goal and two assists in that game, and his team went on to win gold in Helsinki.
This year, it's Gauthier playing at home. And playing for gold.
For the second consecutive night, the Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., native brought the Bell Centre crowd to its feet with a pair of goals - including another game-winner - to propel Canada into the final and a rematch against the United States.
Though he wasn't credited with an assist, fellow Canes prospect Nicolas Roy had a big hand in Gauthier's second-period game-winner. Roy forced the initial turnover that allowed Canada to gain the zone and then provided pressure on the forecheck. Gauthier then went to the front of the net to break the tie.
Another Hurricanes prospect, Jake Bean, got on the score sheet in the third period, earning an assist on Canadian captain Dylan Strome's goal. The Calgary native was plus-1 in 21:37 of ice time in the semifinal.
Gauthier iced the game with just under two minutes remaining, snapping one into the empty net from just outside the Swedish blue line.
It marks the second consecutive time Canada has advanced to the final of the World Junior Championship when playing on home ice. Canada beat Russia in the gold-medal game at Air Canada Centre in 2015.
With his second consecutive multi-goal effort in the medal round, Gauthier now ranks tied for fifth in the tournament in goals (5) and tied for eighth in points (7). But he isn't the only Carolina forward prospect drawing raves in Montreal.
Roy, the Hurricanes fourth-round selection has two goals and an assist (3 points) and is plus-2 for the tournament. He's also in the top 20 in face-offs (51.5%) at World Juniors.
USA-Canada Part II
On New Year's Eve, the United States took down Canada 3-1 at Air Canada Centre to capture the top seed out of Group B.
This time, gold will be on the line.
It marks the fourth time the U.S. and Canada have met in the final. Canada defeated the U.S. in Switzerland, but the U.S. took the two most recent gold-medal showdowns - in 2004 and 2010.
Gauthier, for one, expects the Canadians to be better tonight than they were on Dec. 31.
Face-off for the gold-medal game is at 8 p.m. tonight at Bell Centre. The games airs in the U.S. on NHL Network.
Schedule: Hurricanes Prospects in the 2017 World Junior Championship
Czech Republic 2, Finland 1
Canada 5, Russia 3
Recap: Roy's Goal Highlights Canada's Opening Win
Denmark 3, Finland 2
Canada 5, Slovakia 0
Recap: Gauthier Out-Shoots Slovakia & Aho Looks Back
Sweden 3, Finland 1
Canada 10, Latvia 2
Recap: Gauthier, Roy Score in Canada Blowout
United States 3, Canada 1
Finland 2, Switzerland 0
Recap: Welcome to the Quarters
Canada 5, Czech Republic 3
Finland 2, Latvia 1
Recap: Gauthier's Pair of Goals Propels Canada
Finland 4, Latvia 1 (Finland wins best-of-three series 2-0)
Canada 5, Sweden 2
8 p.m.: Gold medal game, United States vs. Canada (NHL Network, TSN)