WJC SEMI-FINALS ROUNDUP
2023-01-05 · 3 min read · IIHF World Juniors/Hockey
Getty Images | Darren Calabrese/CP
Czechia (2), Sweden (1) (OT)
- We thought this game was going to be a tight contested contest throughout and boy did it deliver. For a while this matchup looked like it might end 1-0 Sweden after Ludvig Jansson, a 4th round pick in last year's NHL draft, scored in the games second period. It was Jansson's fourth goal of the tournament, the most among defensemen. Sweden appeared poised to advance to the gold-medal game for the first time since 2018. Yet there is no quit in this Czechia team, even with them down in the final minute of the game. In the dying moments of the last frame a relentless Czech team won a puck battle along the wall on the left side of the Sweden zone. Standout defender David Jiricek passed to defence partner David Spacek, who quickly slid it back to Jiricek who blasted one from the left circle past Swedish netminder Carl Lidholm with 39 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Then in OT with less than a minute left Jiri Kulich, a late 1st round pick by the Buffalo Sabres last year, zoomed his way down the ice blasting by Swedish forward Fabian Wagner. Kulich then put one just over the rising blocker of Lindbom.
- Now Czechia is advancing to the championship game for the first time since winning back-to-back titles in 2000 and 2001. The goaltending in this game was excellent with Czechia’s Tomas Suchanek making 21 saves including one he snatched from behind him on the goal line un OT and Lindbom making 29 saves in the loss.
Canada (6) United States (2)
- The second semi-final matchup of the day was significantly more offensive. First, the United States jumped out to a 2-0 lead, looking like they might be able to play the way into the final, behind the so far stellar performance of Trey Augustine in net. Then Canada flipped the switch scoring six straight goals against the team that they had lost five of their past six WJC games against. In the end it was Canadian goalie Thomas Millic who is eligible for the 2023 draft that shone through. Millic made 43 saves for Canada, being flawless in the latter two periods making 15 saves in the second period. He then made 12 saves in the third period, including a quick sliding block against American forward Cutter Gauthier on a puck that bounced into the slot off the end boards at 3:51. Canada is now 4-1-0-1 against the United States in the World Junior semifinals, losing 5-1 at the 2013 tournament. Trey Augustine who is also 2023 draft eligible made 31 saves for the United States.
- Canadian phenom and scoring leader Connor Bedard started the comeback, when he scored his ninth goal of the tournament on a redirection of the right post to pull Canada within 2-1. Line mate Logan Stankoven tied it 2-2 at 47 seconds of the second, scoring from the slot after a pass by Joshua Roy. Soon Adam Fantilli gave Canada a 3-2 lead at 5:46 of the second on a redirect from the slot. Then Roy was making plays again with a beautiful backhand to make it 4-2 off a US turnover at 12:10. Brandt Clarke scored on a rebound from the high slot for a 5-2 lead at 9:45 of the third. Then again Roy scored, this time into an empty net at 16:45 for the final goal; Roy finished with 2 goals and 2 assists. The US appeared to have tied the game in the second at 3-3, but Canada successfully challenged the play for goaltender interference, it being overturned upon review. Canada will now play for a second straight championship and its 20th overall when it battles Czechia in the gold-medal game on Thursday
Earlier Wednesday, Latvia beat Austria 4-2 to sweep the best-of-three relegation series. Norway, which hosted and won the Division I, Group A championship last month, will replace Austria in the next WJC.
By: Chase Howard