It hasn't been long since Dylan Guenther scored the game-winning goal for Canada’s 20th world junior hockey title. The joy from the accomplishment is evident in how he carries himself.
Proudly sharing his gold medal and reflecting on his celebration, Guenther is walking around with more confidence following his trip to the World Junior Championship.
Guenther took only a few days off before returning to Arizona and entering the lineup for Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 19-year-old rookie appeared in 21 games with the Coyotes and registered 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) before he was loaned to Team Canada on Dec. 8.
His goal, which came at 6:22 of overtime to give Canada a 3-2 victory over Czechia, etched him into Canadian hockey history.
“It was surreal,” Guenther said. “I was getting a little heated and was throwing my gloves up and stuff. I couldn’t believe it. You dream of that goal, you scored that goal like 100 times in your basement. To have that happen and win like that on home ice in front of that crowd is pretty special.”
Coyotes head coach Andre Tourigny understands all the emotions Guenther is feeling right now after helping Team Canada, as an assistant coach, win gold in the 2020 World Juniors.
“There was people you would probably cross at the supermarket and they will send you texts to say thank you for what you did,” Tourigny said. “You really feel you made your country proud and that is huge. I think feeling you delivered those expectations is a really unbelievable feeling.”
Tourigny didn’t want Guenther to pass up on the opportunity to represent his country, even if it meant changing the lineup for the Coyotes. Guenther earned his spot on the team this season two years since being drafted in 2021.
Playing in a high-stakes environment like the World Juniors provided extra experience as Guenther navigates his first season of the NHL and could impact his development in a positive way.
“It builds confidence to go out there,” Guenther said. “You’re playing with guys around your own age and you touch the puck a little bit more, play a little bit more in different situations, and score some goals.”
Guenther certainly showed confidence in the tournament with 10 points (7 goals, 3 assists) in seven games. Canada was a heavy favorite to win the gold medal, but the team faced early adversity when Czechia took a 5-2 win in the tournament opener. In Canada’s decisive overtime win over Slovakia in the quarterfinals, Guenther had one of the four goals.
“That was the goal, to send him over there to live that experience and to have the pressure and to live the emotions,” said Tourigny, whose team plays host to San Jose on Tuesday night looking to snap a five-game losing streak. “If you look at everybody who was there, how much emotion they had and the pride they had, how much stress they had in that game, I think you would want your player to go through that.”
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Coyotes rookie Dylan Guenther returns to lineup with gold medal