World Junior Hockey Finals: Canada vs USA
January 5, 2017
MONTREAL, Quebec: 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship final game is set as Canada will face team USA in the Word Junior hockey finals.
In their best game of the 2017 world junior championship, the Canadians dispatched the favored Swedes 5-2 in a semifinal showdown on Wednesday night. The victory sets up a rematch with Team USA on Thursday night in the gold medal game.
“We played them and we learned a lot through the tournament,” head coach Dominique Ducharme told TSN in the post-game. “We learned a lot from them.’
The Americans beat Canada 3-1 in the round robin portion of the tournament to win Group B. The Americans defeated Russia in their semifinal to play for gold.
Canada last won gold in 2015 on home ice when the tournament was split again between Toronto and Montreal.
The biggest surprise against the Swedes in Wednesday’s semifinal was the re-emergence of goaltender Carter Hart. The 18-year-old played more than two periods of shutout hockey after coming in to replace netminder Connor Ingram. The decision by Ducharme was the perfect call and the tide turned in favor of Team Canada.
“I really liked the way they responded,” said Ducharme of the goaltending switch.
Hart was named Canada’s player of the game and received a huge cheer from the fans in Montreal.
Canadian goaltending at the world juniors has become an annual storyline at the tournament. It’s been years since Canada had a goaltender that inspired any kind of confidence in fans. In this case it was Hart, who emerged in camp as the hot hand and started the tournament only to falter and be replaced by Connor Ingram, who, in the grand scheme of things, fared no better.
It was Ingram who started against the Swedes – his third straight start at the tournament – but after two early goals on three shots from the Swedes in the first period it was Hart who came in and shut the door with 29 saves. There’s no doubt his performance against Sweden – undefeated at 4-0 in the round robin – has earned him the start against the U.S.
With Ingram having played in the loss to the Americans, it might benefit Canada to have the unfamiliar Hart start in the gold medal game. Offensively, Canada continued clicking with Julien Gauthier netting a pair of goals, while Mitchell Stephens, Anthony Cirelli, and captain Dylan Strome added singles. As a whole, Canada’s forwards made life miserable for Swedish goalie Felix Sandstrom, which is what they needed to do considering he was one of the top netminders in the tournament.
The confidence of beating Sweden – heavily favored on paper – should provide some extra motivation against the U.S. The Canadians looked like a different team, aggressively forechecking and beating Sweden in the one-on-one battles. If they can do that against the U.S., they should be in good stead for gold at home.
Canadians have played the U.S. for a gold medal on three previous occasions with the U.S. winning twice – the last time an overtime victory in 2010.rent team, aggressively forechecking and beating Sweden in the one-on-one battles. If they can do that against the U.S., they should be in good stead for gold at home.
“They’re a good team for sure but we’re going to be ready,” Gauthier told TSN. “I think we were maybe a little too confident going in (against the U.S the first time).”
Canadians have played the U.S. for a gold medal on three previous occasions with the U.S. winning twice – the last time an overtime victory in 2010.