Canada has moved on to the gold medal game for the fifth time in the past six runnings of the IIHF’s World Junior Hockey Championship.
With a 5-2 victory over Czechia – which upset the United States in the quarterfinal – the Canadians will face off against Finland on Saturday night. The Finns beat arch-rival Sweden 1-0 on Friday night, just hours after Canada’s win in Edmonton.
After getting out to a 4-0 lead through 40 minutes, Canada let Czechia back in the game, giving up two goals by the midway point of the third period, including the Czechs’ lone power play marker from David Jiricek. The Canadian power play went two for three, while Czechia scored once on two opportunities.
“It’s exciting to be at this moment now. But the hardest work is ahead,” Canadian goaltender Dylan Garand said. “We’ve got to do the right things here, get the right rest, recovery and be ready to go.”
Garand made 31 saves on the 33 shots he faced, while the Czechs rotated between two netminders, Tomas Suchanek (22 saves) and Pavel Cajan (eight stops), to which the duo gave up a combined five goals.
Logan Stankoven, Kent Johnson, Connor Bedard, Mason McTavish and Joshua Roy each scored for Canada, while Czechia captain Jan Mysak also scored in the semifinal matchup.
“It’s really, really cool,” Bedard said of going for gold on Saturday. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. We’re just so excited to have that opportunity. I thought we were really good from the start. Sure, they’re gonna press a bit sometimes, but I thought overall we took control of the game.”
Finland did not find it quite as easy to score against the Swedes, only managing one goal. But the lone tally by Kasper Puutio was enough, as Sweden could not beat netminder Juhja Jatkola on any of the team’s 23 shots. Jesper Wallstedt gave up just the one goal, but his 27 saves on 28 shots were not good enough for the win.
Sweden will play Czechia in the bronze medal game at 3:00 PM central time on Saturday, while Canada will take on Finland in the gold medal game at 7:00 PM, both from Rogers Place.