Team Canada cruises past the Czechs to play for gold


"Our equipment guys have been taking good care of it", Batherson said, laughing. No one really brought you out of your seats. Then you feel the pressure. We know exactly where we are at. "We had two players down and we stuck (Logan) Brown back in there late". Team Canada is 3-0 all-time against Sweden in gold medal games, most recently topping Tre Kronor in that 2009 showdown between Jordan Eberle and Erik Karlsson in Ottawa. Maybe that's all Canada can reasonably ask out of this event, is that chance. "I can't wait to play Sweden".

The semifinal matchup against Sweden should be a tough test for the Americans, as Sweden finished atop Group B with an undefeated preliminary round. Sweden killed two penalties; Canada couldn't finish. Drake Batherson won a puck battle along the boards. Canada leads 1-0. The gold was guaranteed not long after when Alex Formenton scored into an empty net.

Hart, meanwhile, was tested frequently in the Canadian end - Sweden outshot Canada in the period, 16-9 - and came up with several key saves to keep the score knotted.

"We needed a spark to come our way to turn the tide, and it just didn't", lamented USA head coach Bob Motzko.

Is there a better-than-good chance Canada rolls over the Czechs to meet the victor of the U.S. -Sweden semi in the championship game on Friday night? Yes.

Nobody had anything to be ashamed of.

"We were trying not to dwell on a year ago", said forward Dillon Dube, one of the seven players who returned from the 2017 tournament. "I couldn't be happier for any other guy to get it ... we got that goal and he is a champion forever".

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The Swedes, who had five first-rounders in the line-up - not including projected No. 1 overall pick Rasmus Dahlin - were one not only matched Canada in terms of speed and skill, but had gone a ideal 6-0 in the tournament. The pace of the game was the best we have seen in the tournament. Both teams were fast as anything. Neither team held back as each tried to establish a presence in the offensive zone, and it was Canada that scored first - or so it thought.

Yes, this was a game.

The powerhouse nations were tied 1-1 until unsung hero Tyler Steenbergen deflected a point shot from Conor Timmins to put Canada ahead 2-1 with 1:40 to play. Especially after a great move by Filip Zadina gave the Czechs an early lead. A year ago defenceman Cale Makar was playing Junior A in Brooke, Alta., and he entered the gold-medal game as the tournament's leading scorer among defencemen.

While Sweden has gone undefeated in the tournament, the team did so while playing against such powerhouses as Russian Federation and the United States.

In the final against the US a year ago Canada had its chances, and couldn't grasp them. His third goal, which caused the Canadian fans in the half-full arena to toss their hats onto the ice, was far prettier as Batherson drove to the net and lifted a shot into the top portion of the net.

Team Canada takes on Sweden in the World Junior Championships starting at 7 Buffalo, New York.

Dube started thinking about this moment from the time Hockey Canada assembled its summer camp, and as his season with the Kelowna Rockets rolled on, it brewed and brewed. All those things we need to take and play our best game (Friday). One of Ducharme's first memories of the tournament was watching Stephane Fiset in 1990 in Helsinki, backstopping Canada to a gold over a Soviet Union team with Pavel Bure, and a Czech team with Jaromir Jagr, Robert Reichel and Bobby Holik. "He was our best player tonight and throughout the tournament he was unbelievable". Filip Zardina, one of the top prospects eligible for this year's National Hockey League draft, scored both goals for the Czech Republic.