WJC: Canada drubs the Czech Republic, awaits Sweden in gold medal game

January 4, 2018

For the second straight year, Canada will play for gold at the IIHF Under-20 World Junior Championship.

The Canadians managed to clinch a spot in the gold medal game with a 7-2 throttling of the Czech Republic at KeyBank Center on Thursday night.

The Czechs gave Canada a scare right away as 2018 NHL Draft eligible prospect Filip Zadina made a nice move to evade defenseman Kale Clague (Los Angeles Kings), and then ripped a short-side shot over the shoulder of Carter Hart (Philadelphia Flyers) in goal.

The lead for the Czechs lasted a remarkable 9:10 before the Canadians finally responded on the powerplay. After a delay of game penalty taken by Martin Kaut (2018 NHL Draft eligible), Anaheim Ducks' prospect Sam Steel got Canada on the board with a one-timer off to the left of Josef Korenar (San Jose Sharks) in the Czech net.

A little over a minute later, the Czech's troublesome penalty kill had to go back to work after a cross-checking call on Albert Michnac. With time about to expire in the penalty, Canada takes their first lead of the game with a Drake Batherson (Ottawa Senators) goal off a deflection from a shot taken by defenseman Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche).

From there, Canada went on to score five more unanswered goals in the second and third period, including two more goals for Batherson to complete the hat-trick in the second period. Canada also got goals from Maxime Comtois (Anaheim Ducks), Jordan Kyrou (St. Louis Blues), and Boris Katchouk (Tampa Bay Lightning) as part of the Canadian onslaught.

On the night, the Canadian powerplay finished 3-of-5, converting on 60-percent of their chances with the man-advantages.

The Czechs added one more in the third period from Zadina again, but Canada ended up out-shooting the Czechs 39-20 en route to their big win in the semifinals.

Batherson ended up as Canada's Player of the Game, while Zadina was named as the Czech Repuiblic's Player of the Game.

Korenar was pulled from the game after Canada's sixth goal in the second period, and finished the night with 17 saves on 23 shots faced. Jakub Skarek made 15 saves on 16 shots faced in his effort coming in relief.

Hart was very solid in net for the Canadians once again, making 18 saves on just 20 shots faced in the win.

Up next for Canada is the gold medal game on Friday at 8 p.m., where they will take on Sweden, who finished preliminary play as the top team of Group B.

The Czech Republic will look to capture their first medal at the World Juniors since 2005 when they face the United States in the bronze medal game at 4 p.m.