TEAM CANADA vs TEAM USA
3:30 PM PST
SCOTIABANK CENTRE, HALIFAX, NS
While it may not be the battle for gold that some hoped for, it’s always a special time when these two bitter rivals meet, at any level in hockey. And both teams arrived at this moment in starkly different fashions. The Americans cruised into the semis in a laugher, embarrassing the Germans 11-1. Canada found themselves locked in a battle with a tough Slovakian team (the only team to hand the Americans a loss in the round robin), and came out on top in OT thanks to some magic from North Vancouver’s Connor Bedard.
They’ll know who they’ll have to beat for a medal as the first game of the day will feature the Swedish team that has Canucks prospects Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Lekkerimaki. In their round robin meeting, Lekkerimaki set up the OT winner for the Swedes in a 3-2 over the Czechs. Czechia has been the true surprise of the tournament, stunning Canada in the tournament opener for both teams, and looking very much like a team that could win it all this time around.
Canada and the USA haven’t met yet in this tournament, but have had similar paths apart from yesterday. Stunning losses, and cruising to wins the rest of the way. The Americans finished atop Group B, while Canada finished second in Group A. Canada scored 29 goals in round robin play, 10 more than Team USA.
The goaltending matchup will feature Team USA’s Trey Augustine (1.36 GAA/ .936 Sv%) vs Canada’s Tomas Milic (1.69 GAA/ .921 Sv%). Milic was in goal for Canada’s only loss, while Augustine is undefeated.
The game will boil down to defence: Can the Canadians do enough to stifle a well balanced and potent American attack, and can anyone stop Connor Bedard? As we saw against Slovakia, even trying to play him (and the rest of Team Canada) downright dirty wasn’t enough, and if the Canadians can tighten things up on the back end a little more, they could be playing for Gold tomorrow.