Canada dominates Czechs to advance to gold medal game at men’s hockey worlds
Canada and Finland won the semifinals on Saturday to set up a third consecutive gold medal showdown between the teams at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.
Finland won gold in 2019 in Slovakia, the 2020 tournament was canceled due to the pandemic and Canada won gold last year in Latvia. This time around, Finland will play at home for Sunday’s league game at the Nokia Arena.
“We know the building is going to topple over and the Finns are playing for gold at home,” said Canadian striker Dylan Cozens. “But we have to try to get off to a good start and not let [Finland] build momentum with their fans.”
Cozens had two goals and an assist in Canada’s 6-1 victory over the Czech Republic. Finland beat the United States 4-3 in the other semi-final.
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Canada pulled away scoring three goals in three minutes 19 seconds midway through the second period. Kent Johnson’s goal was sandwiched between power-play goals from Adam Lowry and Matt Barzal.
“The Czechs were good in the tournament on the penalty kill and we were able to capitalize on some power plays tonight,” said Canadian head coach Claude Julien. “We will take some time and study the Finnish penalty and hopefully find a solution like we were able to against the Czechs.
David Krejci opened the scoring for the Czech Republic and Cozens tied the game late in the first half. Drake Batherson had two assists.
“We came here to win,” said Canadian defender Ryan Graves. “We are proud of our hockey. As Canadians, hockey is in our blood, so I know everyone back home wants us to get gold.
“It’s an honor to play for your country and that’s why we come here.”
Level of confidence before the final
Cole Sillinger scored an insurance goal for the Canadians, who edged the Czech Republic 35-26. Canadian goaltender Chris Dreidger made 25 saves.
“Tomorrow before the [Finnish fans]there will be adversity and we will have to fight,” said Canadian striker Pierre-Luc Dubois. “We have a lot of confidence in ourselves and we know what we are capable of.”
The Americans will face the Czech Republic for bronze on Sunday.
The Finns won their first Olympic title this year in Beijing.
“It’s special,” said defender Mikko Lehtonen. “At the moment it’s still a game. It’s a final. It doesn’t matter who you play against, but in front of the home fans it’s always special for us.”
Nate Schmidt, Sean Farrell and Adam Gaudette scored for the Americans. Jeremy Swayman stopped 22 shots.
“It’s definitely tough,” Farrell said. “We fought as hard as we could but they’re a very good team and they ended up winning. We just have to refocus and be ready to fight for a bronze medal tomorrow.”