Canada 4 - United States 1
CANADA TO PLAY FOR GOLD AT 2008 IIHF WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP
by Alan Adams
PARDUBICE, Czech Republic – For the seventh straight year, Canada is going for gold at the IIHF World Junior Championship.
Goals by Shawn Matthias (Mississauga, ON/Belleville, OHL) and Karl Alzner (Burnaby, BC/Calgary, WHL) in the second period and by Colton Gillies (Surrey, BC/Saskatoon, WHL) and Brad Marchand (Hammonds Plains, NS/Halifax, QMJHL) 20 seconds apart in the third paced the Canadians to a 4-1 semi-final win over the United States on Friday.
The three-time defending gold medalists will now look for number four when the play Sweden for the gold medal on Saturday. The Swedes beat Russia 2-1 in overtime to advance to the gold medal game.
The Canadians turned in their best effort of the tournament to beat the Americans in the semi-final for a second straight year.
"We have a bunch of guys who hate to lose and have a lot of heart and we realized we were one step away from where we wanted to be and everybody stepped up and we had our best game so far," said Alzner, the team captain. "Right from the start to the finish, we came to play. They always provide a little bit of a jump for us and we really wanted to beat them. We wanted to show them how Canadian hockey is played."
"Unbelievable, it is like a dream coming true," said Gillies about going for gold. "Oh man, it is hard to believe that I am actually here right now."
The Swedes last won gold in 1981 and lost 4-1 to Canada in the gold medal game of the 1996 tournament in Boston, the last time the Swedes took home a medal from the World Juniors.
The Swedes beat Canada 4-3 on a late goal in a preliminary round game one week ago, despite the Canadians holding a 2-0 lead early in the third period.
"They are a good team and play a different style of hockey and we have been getting better every game and if we play the way we are capable of playing, we should be fine," said Gillies.
This marks the 10th consecutive year that Canada will win a medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship. The next-best streak is three years by Russia, a streak that is on the line when the Russians face the USA for bronze on Saturday.
Matthias scored his third goal of the tournament at 2:46 of the second period when he slid the puck under goalie Jeremy Smith after the Canadians cycled the puck deep in the American end.
Alzner extended the lead on a Canadian powerplay at the midway point of the period, blasting home a feed from Kyle Turris (New Westminster, BC/University of Wisconsin, WCHA) to put Canada ahead by two.
The Canadians iced the win in the third when Stefan Legein picked up a loose puck in his own end and headed up ice. He was inside the USA zone when he sent a cross-ice pass to Gillies, and his wrist shot beat Smith at 7:04 for his first goal of the tournament.
The Canadians were still celebrating on their bench when the American
"It was twisting the knife," said Gillies about how Marchand's goal deflated the rival Americans.
Canadian goalie Steve Mason (Oakville, ON/Kitchener, OHL)lost his shutout bid at 13:26 of the third on a goal by James van Riemsdyk.
"His rebound control was unbelievable," said Alzner, who along with Marchand is returning to the gold medal game for a second straight year.