Canada and Sweden will meet in Friday’s Gold Medal Game at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Buffalo, New York following victories in Semi-Final action on Thursday. Here’s a closer look at the action from Buffalo.
CANADA 7 – CZECH REPUBLIC 2
Ottawa Senators prospect Drake Batherson (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles) scored a hat-trick as Canada punched its ticket to Friday’s Gold Medal Game at the World Junior Hockey Championship, defeating the Czech Republic 7-2 at the Key Bank Centre.
After top 2018 NHL Draft prospect Filip Zadina (Halifax Mooseheads) scored his first of two on the night to open the scoring for the Czechs, Canada proceeded to score seven consecutive goals to put things out of reach.
Sam Steel (Regina Pats) and Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting) both had a goal and an assist while Maxime Comtois (Victoriaville Tigres) and Boris Katchouk (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) also lit the lamp for Canada.
Robert Thomas (London Knights) and Cale Makar both finished the game with two assists while goaltender Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips) made 18 saves.
The win saw the Canadians go 3-for-4 on the power play, outshooting the Czechs 39-20.
“Not getting the invite this summer, I think I saw a few guys last year who had a good start; got an invite to camp and ended up making the team so maybe I thought I could be like that and it’s worked out,” said Batherson post-game as he reflected on the past several months. “I just worked on my game all summer, just progressing as a player and getting better every day.”
Following the victory, Canada named its top three players of the tournament as chosen by Dominique Ducharme’s (Drummondville Voltigeurs) coaching staff. Defencemen Conor Timmins (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds), Cale Makar and forward Drake Batherson received those honours.
Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Libor Hajek (Saskatoon Blades) was among the Czech Republic’s top three selections.
The Czechs will now face the United States for Bronze on Friday at 4:00pm ET.
Canada returns to the Gold Medal Game for the third time in the past four years, going for gold for the 17th time in tournament history when they face Sweden on Friday at 8:00pm ET on TSN.
SWEDEN 4 – UNITED STATES 2
They were outshot 31-20, but timely scoring and strong goaltending from Filip Gustavsson will see Sweden play for Gold at the World Juniors for the first time since 2014 following a 4-2 win over the United States.
Elias Pettersson and Lias Andersson gave the Swedes a 2-0 lead on the U.S. before a pair of shorthanded markers on the same American power play put things out of reach as Sweden went ahead 4-0.
Oskar Steen and Axel Jonsson Fjallby gave the Swedes the 4-0 edge before the United States made a comeback attempt that came up short on goals from Kieffer Bellows (Portland Winterhawks) and Brady Tkachuk.
The Swedish victory came before 7,524 at the Key Bank Center as the Americans will be forced to play for Bronze on Friday.
Both teams named their Players of the Tournament as chosen by the respective coaching staffs following the final buzzer.
2018 NHL Draft prospect Rasmus Dahlin, New York Rangers prospect Lias Andersson and former Mississauga Steelheads forward Alexander Nylander earned the honours for Sweden while Bellows, Adam Fox and Casey Mittelstadt received recognition for the U.S.
Sweden will face Canada for Gold for the first time since 2009 on Friday at 8:00pm ET, a game that can be seen live on TSN.
DENMARK 3 – BELARUS 2 (Denmark wins best-of-three relegation series 2-0)
Denmark took a 3-2 shootout win over Belarus at the Key Bank Center to successfully avoid relegation on Thursday.
Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup scored in regulation and added the shootout winner as the Danes will return for the 2019 World Juniors in Vancouver.
Jonas Rondbjerg and Daniel Nielsen added Denmark goals while Joachim Blichfeld (Portland Winterhawks) had a pair of assists before leaving the game with an injury.
Maksim Sushko (Owen Sound Attack) had a goal and an assist for Belarus in the loss while Ilya Litvinov also found the back of the net and defenceman Vladislav Yeryomenko (Calgary Hitmen) had an assist.
Both Sushko and Yeryomenko were chosen as two of Belarus’ top three players of the tournament by the club’s coaching staff while Blichfeld was included in Denmark’s selections.
For full coverage of the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship visit the IIHF or HockeyCanada.ca.