Canada will get its chance to avenge last year’s second-place finish at the world juniors, but they won’t face the U.S. in doing so.
With Sweden knocking off the United States 4-2 in Thursday’s other semifinal matchup, Canada punched its own ticket to the 2018 World Junior Championship gold-medal game by crushing the Czech Republic 7-2.
Such a gold-medal game should bring fans of international hockey back a few years; Canada edged Sweden in the final round of the world juniors in 2008 and 2009. Sweden’s last gold-medal win came in 2012, while Canada’s most recent top finish was in 2015.
While lopsided games aren’t necessarily foreign to international play, this tournament continues to hammer home the thought that, for the most part, this event has been dominated by a select few powerhouse nations: Canada, Sweden, Russia, and the U.S., with Finland recently joining those ranks.
Slovakia is the only other nation to earn a medal besides those five since 2006, grabbing a bronze in 2015. To some, this rant captures some of the feeling of “haves” versus “have-nots.”
The Czech Republic aims for its first medal since 2005 (a bronze) when it faces the U.S. in the bronze-medal game. They won’t just need to take on a powerhouse – albeit a struggling one, at least in this tournament – but they’ll also need to shake off a harsh beating from Canada.
In a 7-2 game, it’s not surprising to see some standout performances. Drake Batherson bathed in the open ice, generating a hat trick. It was quite the night for the Ottawa Senators prospect (121st overall in 2017):
You could argue that Filip Zadina enjoyed a solid night in scoring both of the Czech Republic’s goals, but that’s likely little solace in such a blowout.
Canada will face Sweden for the gold in Buffalo on Friday.