Later today, Team Canada will find out which team it will face in its World Cup of Hockey semifinal.
After defeating Team Europe to clinch top spot in Group A, Canada will either face the young stars from Team North America, or a familiar rival in Team Russia.
Due to the head-to-head tiebreaker, if Russia beats Finland in today’s round robin game (puck drop is 3 p.m. ET), Canada will face the Russians. But a Russian loss of any kind would result in Canada facing TNA for the right to advance to the best-of-three final.
Both possible matchups are intriguing because of the star power involved and both could present Canada with a challenge in a one-game, winner-take-all environment.
Both Team North America and Team Europe have been called gimmicks as additions to this World Cup.
But now an argument could be made that both teams have provided something new and exciting to the competition. Team Europe, which includes players representing eight different countries outside of Sweden, Finland, Russia and the Czech Republic, is off to the semifinal round versus Sweden after initially looking out of place and behind the pace in the pre-tournament games.
Team North America, boasting a youthful and highly skilled lineup, has provided a number of thrills in this tournament. That captivating, back-and-forth three-on-three overtime win against Sweden on Wednesday won’t soon be forgotten.
They have taken this event by storm.
“You know what, we were just talking, Dave Tippett has coached probably more games than probably the rest of our staff put together and we have coaches that have been around for a while, but we became fans,” said Team North America coach Todd McLellan.
“I was standing on the bench, ‘no, no, no’ and then, ‘go, go, go.’ It was just going back and forth, the energy in the building and the passion with the fans, the players. I’ve seen a lot of excited players, but that bench was very excited.”
But whether it’s TNA or Russia as the opponent in the semifinal, Team Canada has just one goal.
“I like watching that team because there’s tons of skill,” said Canadian coach Mike Babcock of Team North America. “I like winning more, though. I just want to win.”