Canada will play for a medal on Sunday. The only question is: which one?
Last year, Canadians were denied the chance to get on the podium by the same team they will face Saturday – Finland. That game ended when Noah Dobson’s stick broke with a single timer, leading to a Finnish counterattack and Toni Utunen’s shot by beating Michael DiPietro in overtime. Five Canadians – Barrett Hayton, Alexis Lafreniere, Jared McIsaac, Ty Smith and Joe Veleno – will seek revenge while the Finns have four players who return to Anttoni Honka, Ville Heinola, Utunen and Rasmus Kapari.
Captain Barrett Hayton has been dynamic in this tournament, scoring five goals and four assists in five games. Once again he will hit a line with Nolan Foote and the Alexis Lafreniere phenomenon. The combination of Lafreniere and Hayton was particularly dangerous in the power game and the Canadians were 44% effective with the male lead in the tournament. Joel Hofer, who played for the first time in relief against Russia, seemed keen in the pipes. Enter the game with a savings rate of .923. The only goalkeeper above him? Finnish Justus Annunen at .936.
Finland defeated the United States 1-0 in the quarterfinals to earn their place in a matchup that was a repeat of last year’s gold medal match. Canada aims for a different result when they hit the ice on Saturday. Canadians have a quality record when the Czech Republic hosts the tournament. They won a medal every year, was played there and won gold twice, in 1994, when the tournament was in Ostrava and again in 2008, and took silver in 2002.
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Sporting News has all the credentials with Canada and Finland that win a place in the gold medal at the IIHF 2020 Junior World Championship.
Canada-Finland scores, highlights of the 2020 World Juniors semifinal
(All times are eastern)
14:06 – The second period has started and Kevin Bahl is on the bench.
13:56 – During the break, TSN shows that the shot blocked by Kevin Bahl hit him in the elbow or wrist; the defender suffered a lot on the bench.
13:49 – The Finns will start the second with 41 seconds of power-play time.
13:48 – Finland gets some quality, grade A. Hofer chance, however, stone Joonas Oden on the threshold with the beauty of a saving throw and then gets some help from her stakes while Kristian Tanus shoots a cane from the tube with Hofer down and out.
13:47 – With just over a minute in the period, Finland gets a power-play opportunity.
13:40 – OBJECTIVE. Justus Annunen has difficulty covering the disc and Aidan Dudas beats the disc so lightly on Ty Dellandrea that he buries it. Canada leads 4-0.
13:35 – Change of formation for the Canadians. Bowen Byram is away on sick leave. Today he warmed up.
Calen Addison lost her rehearsal on Wednesday with an illness … Bowen Byram couldn’t play tonight
Jamie Drysdale was cast in the spotlight and the 17-year-old turned him in
– Mark Masters (@markhmasters) January 4, 2020
13:30 – It’s no surprise, but Finnish coach Raimo Helminen is on fire.
13:28 – Sampo Ranta is being cut by Calen Addison and is bleeding, but no game calls. He shot the disc after the whistle and was given a 10 minute misconduct (Note: in the other semifinal Rasmus Sandin did something similar and there was no penalty or misconduct given). A bad phone call but Ranta still needs to be mended.
13:25 – Another big stop by Hofer, this time on Kristian Tanus who is alone in front. The Finn had the non-pass pass on the winning goal against the United States.
13:24 – Lots of back and forth action in this. Joel Hofer stops on an Eemil Erholtz he was dragging. So Canada bursts 2-on-0 and Lafreniere tries a move but can’t finish as the puck widens.
13:21 – This is Drysdale’s first goal and the third point of the tournament.
13:17 – OBJECTIVE. Less than four minutes and now it’s 3-0. Jamie Drysdale with a big move through the ice and shoots his wrist between the circles through the grain. Goal goal of the 17 year old. Canada lead 3-0.
13:14 – Finland calls the timeout.
13:13 – OBJECTIVE. And just like that, it’s 2-0. Alexis Lafreniere shows why he is becoming No. 1 in June as he takes the pass from Nolan Foote and scores on the sweet backhand. Canada lead 2-0.
13:11 – OBJECTIVE. Less than two minutes in play and Connor McMichael with the goal from the left circle. The disc came off the stick of Toni Utunen, who turned it over. Canada lead 1-0.
13:09 – Get cold beer. The game is on.
13:07 – For the superstitious crowd: Canada wears the black shirt. They wore them against the Czech Republic in the preliminary round and Slovakia in the quarterfinals. (They wore them against Finland last year …)
12:44 – “It’s not my fault that I’m out here losing.”
12:28 – Canadian training.