Team Canada and Team USA will renew their rivalry, and this time it will be for a gold medal at the 2017 World Juniors.
Team USA punched its ticket to the championship game after a nerve-wracking semifinal shootout victory over Russia earlier on Wednesday. A few hours later, the opponent for Thursday’s finale was determined.
Despite trailing twice in the first period and a goaltending change, Canada advanced with a 5-2 victory in a thriller versus Sweden later in the evening. Julien Gauthier, taken 21st overall last year by the Carolina Hurricanes, scored the winner, jamming in a loose puck past Felix Sandstrom.
Gauthier scored the empty-netter late in the third period, eliminating any possibility of a miracle Sweden comeback.
Earlier anxiousness of Canadian hockey fans was replaced by jubilation in the end. But it didn’t start out so well for Canada.
Sweden jumped out to the lead on a short-handed goal, as Joel Eriksson-Ek beat Connor Ingram with a shot off the wing, an attempt that Ingram should’ve stopped.
The Swedes regained the lead two minutes later, as Carl Grundstrom slid the puck through the legs of Ingram. He was replaced in net by Carter Hart, a prospect of the Philadelphia Flyers, immediately after Sweden’s second goal.
But Canada took over in the second period, and continued that into the third, never really sitting back on the lead.
Now, it’s Canada vs. USA for the gold. These teams met in the round robin, with Team USA scoring the win on New Year’s Eve.