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Canada eliminates Czech Republic to advance to semifinals

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Team Canada is off to the final four.

Picking up a 3-0 victory versus the Czech Republic on Saturday, Canada pushed its perfect showing to 5-0-0-0 at the 2021 World Junior Championship as it continues its pursuit for a leading 19th gold-medal win.

For the second-straight game, Buffalo Sabres first-round pick Dylan Cozens of the Lethbridge Hurricanes opened the scoring, slipping a puck through Czech netminder Nick Malik of the Soo Greyhounds midway through the opening frame.

Canada scored once more in the first period, getting offense from Colorado Avalanche first rounder and Vancouver Giants blue-liner Bowen Byram that also drew an assist from Cozens, who pushed his team-leading performance to 13 points counting seven goals and six assists over five games.

In all, the Czech Republic proved to be a battle-tested opponent Saturday, ultimately outshooting Canada by a 29-25 margin but unable to find the back of the net. Canada added one more goal of its own late in the final frame when Washington Capitals first-round pick and London Knights centre Connor McMichael potted an empty netter.

“In this tournament, you play against really good opponents and you cannot give them chances to get their best player going, to start playing with confidence and zip the puck around,” Canada head coach Andre Tourigny of the Ottawa 67’s said postgame. “You want to keep (the opponent) in check as much as possible, and the best penalty killing is to not take penalties. Tonight, we did exactly that.”

Canada returns to the ice Monday when it faces Russia in a semifinal showdown.

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