Visentin's highlight-reel save highlights Canada win
Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 7:58 PM / 2012 World Junior ChampionshipCALGARY -- Mark Visentin had seen it before.
By Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent
Taking a three-goal lead into the third period in the gold medal game a year ago, Visentin watched as the Russians pumped five goals by him to steal the World Junior Championship title from Canada.
With a three-goal lead over Finland heading into the third period of the bronze medal game Thursday, Visentin made sure history wasn't about to repeat itself -- and in spectacular fashion, no less.
When Joonas Donskoi put a sharp-angled shot on Visentin just 2:01 into the third, the puck hit the Canadian goaltender's shoulder, bounced off the crossbar and flirted with the goal line. In desperation, Visentin reached behind him with his glove to snatch the puck out of mid-air before Finland had the chance to record its first goal of the game.
"It was pretty wicked," Visentin said. "I watched the puck go off my shoulder, off the crossbar and I just saw it out of the corner of my eye go into my glove when I was reaching for it. I was kind of worried I swept so far back I caught it and put it in my own net but once I saw the replay and the crowd started to go nuts I had a good feeling it wasn't going in.
"I'm going to have to get it on DVD and save it for a long time."
The save stalled any hope of a Finnish comeback and left his Canadian teammates in disbelief.
"It was one of the nicer ones in a long time," said Brett Connolly, a teammate of Visentin's at the 2011 tournament in Buffalo.
Freddie Hamilton was equally in awe.
"At first, everyone on the bench thought it was just caught up in his pads or something," Hamilton said. "But to see the way it went off his shoulder and right into his glove, it was pretty cool."
Though defenseman Dougie Hamilton – Freddie's brother – was just a few feet from his goaltender at the time, he admitted he wasn't immediately sure what had happened.
"To be honest I had no idea where the puck was and no idea after either until I saw it on the Jumbotron," said Hamilton, Visentin's teammate with the OHL's Niagara IceDogs. "I was smiling at him and screaming at him and having some fun with it. I don't know if it was going in or not but I was hoping not. Obviously a nice save."
In the end, it was the nicest of Visentin's 27 saves in the 4-0 shutout victory. And while this year's bronze may not be as prestigious as last year's silver, it will always hold a special place in the goalie's heart.
"I'm still proud of having a bronze medal in my hands," Visentin said. "When I look back in 30 years I'll be proud of it and it'll be something I can show my kids."