Canada defeats rival U.S., advances to world junior gold-medal game against Czech Republic

Canada is just one step away from its 20th gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships.

Adam Fantilli took the lead in the second half and Thomas Milic brilliantly made 43 saves as the league hosts came back to beat the United States 6-2 on Wednesday in a single game. Another emotional match of the tournament. bitter international rival.

Joshua Roy had two goals, including one in an empty net and two assists for Canada, while Connor Bedard and Logan Stankoven each scored one and set up another. Brandt Clarke scored the other, while Fantilli added an assist to score two points on the night.

The Czech Republic beat Sweden 2-1 in a thrilling extra time to qualify for Thursday’s final.

Logan Cooley and Kenny Connors answered for the Americans, who will face the Swedes for bronze. Trey Augustine saves 31 shots for the US team

Canada, which came forward to face the Americans thanks to Bedard’s incredible individual effort in a dramatic extra-time victory over the Slovaks in the quarter-finals, lost 5-2 to the Czech Republic in an opener. shameful show.

Expected to do well at the 2023 NHL — but also largely overshadowed in the men’s under-20s by the spectacular Bedard, the supposed top pick in June and the leader in points for the world juniors with 23 points in six games — Fantilli started the tournament on the second line, but was pushed to the edge of the roster as the rollout progressed.

After the Canadian fought back to equalize 2-2 early in the second half, he scored his second goal of the event thanks to a superb pass from Zach Dean to ignite the shirt-wearing Scotiabank Center red.

Milic brilliantly saved Jimmy Snuggerud 2v1 to keep Canada, the team that won their 19th gold medal at the summer tournament postponed due to the pandemic, in the driver’s seat.

The United States appeared to have drawn at 6:22, but Jackson Blake’s goal was reversed after a coach’s challenge to the goalkeeper’s intervention.

Augustine then denied Dylan Guenther alone on the other end, but Roy scored the fourth on a backhand at 12:20.

Olen Zellweger hit the post in a Canadian power play before Milic saved Connors in a short break.

Rutger McGroarty looked to have taken a 4-3 lead after just 38 seconds in the third half, but Canada was once again precisely fouled because of goalkeeper interference.

Milic made four stunning saves in a play of US power, including McGroarty’s shot off the post.

The Americans had their neighbors on the wire as time went on, but Fantilli set up Clarke a second time at 9:45 for some much-needed breathing room.

Roy kicked into an empty net in a US powerhouse match with 3:15 left to send the Canadians into the final on Thursday as fans chanted “We Want Gold” at the Scotiabank Center.

hard start

Canada, which has lost five of its last six encounters with the US, including the finals of both the 2017 and 2021 tournaments, got off to a bad start on Wednesday.

Cooley, who is second in the league in scoring behind Bedard, broke the ice 1:19 in the first game when he hit a loose ball home on the sixth goal.

The United States took a 9-0 lead on the stopwatch before Canada tested Augustine and closed in as Luke Hughes headed off Milic’s post before taking a 2-0 lead at 10:30 when Connors scored. second recovery for the home team.

Bedard, who has set five national or tournament records in innings, replied at 11:49 a.m. after the Canadian – fell behind the Slovakians in the head-to-head round and got even worse early Wednesday against the Americans – won a draw in the attacking area and ate a good point from Ethan Del Mastro leading to make it 2-1.

Stankoven brought the hosts back to the level 57 seconds into the second in a scramble.

Fantilli hit the post in a play of power, but wouldn’t be denied later in the period before Milic stopped a Chaz Lucius breakaway.

USA head coach Rand Pecknold was asked before the game what stood out about the all-star Canadian roster that had seven picks in the first round — including three NHLers — plus Bedard and Fantilli.

“Talent, talent, and more talent,” Rand said. “They’ve done a great job developing players.”

The Czech Republic will have to keep an eye on Bedard, but forward Gabriel Szturc said his team knows the Canadian is more than just a dynamic forward.

“Everybody who plays in Canada is very good,” Szturc said. “You can’t say, ‘Hey, you just have to fight Connor Bedard.”‘

The NCAA’s Michigan Wolverines had good representation on Wednesday with five combined players joining the ice.

Fantilli is a good fit for Canada, while Hughes, Rutger McGroarty, Gavin Bindley and Dylan Duke are in the US lineup.

Not much conversation.

“I kept my word,” McGroarty said when asked if he was in contact with Fantilli during the tournament. “I never texted him.”

Hughes echoed those sentiments.

“Silent station.”

Now Fantilli has the right to brag to the world.


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