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2018 WJC Semi Finals : USA vs Sweden /Canada vs Czech Republic

One step away from playing for gold, Elias Pettersson leads the Swedes against the US while Jonah Gadjovich and Canada battle the Czechs.

Switzerland v Canada: Quarterfinal - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Nicholas T. LoVerde/Getty Images

It’s down to the last 4 in Buffalo today, as two games will determine who plays for gold Friday night. In the early game Team Sweden and Canucks prospect Elias Pettersson are up against the US team that will be without Will Lockwood, who suffered an injury in that shootout win over Canada last Friday.

This game could go either way, and it’s likely going to come down to special teams and goaltending. The Swedes will have to ensure the American trio of Casey Mittelstadt, Kiefer Bellows and Brady Tkachuk are kept in check, while giving Pettersson, Lias Andersson and Alexander Nylander are able to get opportunities.

In the late game, Canada looks to head to the gold medal game (and a potential revenge rematch against the US should they defeat the Swedes). One thing is for sure, the Canadian coaching staff isn’t buying into the Czech message that they’re underdogs merely lucky to be there. They’re not exactly Belarus or Denmark, folks.

They seem to be focused, but there seems to be a lot of focus on Carter Hart and his leaving the ice superstition, which is still a big story apparently. I can see both sides of this. On one hand, it’s humourous, and lord knows most players these days are dry, boring quote generators. On the other hand, who cares if the other goalie goes off first? If this is something you think actually has an impact on the results, you probably don’t have much faith in your own abilities. Commentators saying the ‘S’ word doesn’t break a shutout, and Hart not being last off the ice isn’t gonna affect the outcome of the game in any way, shape or form other than distracting his focus.

One thing that’s been a positive for Canada so far is they’ve been getting fairly spread out scoring. You always want your best players showing up in the biggest games, but it’s nice to know if the opposition shuts them down, you’re still a threat. That being said, you should expect Jordan Kyrou and Cale Makar to continue leading the way for Team Canada.

They’ve also gotten some good news as Victor Mete of the Montreal Canadiens has been cleared to return to the lineup. Mete was injured in the outdoor game on a hit at the buzzer, and then played limited minutes in the final round robin game against Denmark.