If Canada was looking to send a message to whomever was going to be their opponent today with yesterday’s game, it’s safe to say it came through loud and clear. A dominant 5-1 victory over a very good Czech team gives them a shot at winning their first gold since going back to back in 2016 and 2017.
The Canadians got strong games from Mark Stone, who had a goal and an assist, and Matt Murray, who stopped 40 of 41 Czech shots for the win yesterday. It also featured another strong game from Troy Stecher, who set up Stone’s goal and was a +3 in 10:44 of ice time. Troy from Richmond has been a solid performer, capping off what has been a breakthrough season for him with a great tournament playing alongside Ottawa’s Thomas Chabot.
Finland finds itself in the finals after yesterday’s stunning 1-0 upset of the Russians, and having already beaten this Canadian team in the opening game of the tournament, they’re confident they can bring home Gold today. They’ve also been getting stellar goaltending from Kevin Lankinen, who plays for Chicago’s AHL team. They will be facing a Canadian team that, as we’ve often seen in this tournament, has gotten better with each game. The opening night loss may have been a bit of a shock, but Canada’s entries in the Worlds always seem to take a little time to gel. Right now, Alain Vigneault has them firing on all cylinders and they should provide a much tougher matchup than they did the first time around. They’ll need to keep an eye on Kaapo Kakko, who’s had a splendid tournament and certainly added credence to those who think that the New Jersey Devils should be picking him and not Jack Hughes as the first overall selection at next month’s NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver.
In the bronze medal match, we have the Czechs, looking to salvage a pretty good tournament with a win over Russia, who by all rights should have easily won this tournament, but again in a big game on the world stage, came up short.