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Canada Heads To Championship Game

by Ryan Boulding / Colorado Avalanche

CANADA (2) VS. CZECH REPUBLIC (0)

Canada has a chance to play for a gold medal for the first time since 2009 after defeating the 2015 IIHF World Championship host Czech Republic 2-0 at O2 Arena in Prague on Saturday.

Easily the favorite at the tournament, the Canadians had a brief reprieve from total dominance in the victory, as the team defeated Belarus 9-0 in the quarterfinal round to face the Czechs.

The Canadians were averaging 7.25 goals per game entering Saturday’s contest.

Canada netminder Mike Smith was perfect on the day, turning aside 23 shots—including just five in the final period—for his second consecutive shutout of the tournament while his team got things done at the other end of the ice.

Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall struck first for the Canadians, tallying the eventual game-winning goal just 8:40 into the match after Oilers teammate Jordan Eberle, on a breakaway, fed Hall to take advantage of a 2-on-1 situation.

Jason Spezza followed suit in the middle frame, beating Winnipeg Jets and Czech Republic goaltender Ondrej Pavalec to give Canada a buffer for the remainder of the game.

The Czechs looked to pull within a goal in the middle stanza on the strength of a Michal Jordan marker, but the tally was called off after the officials whistled Petr Koukal for a crease violation.

Pavelec went on to keep Canada quiet, turning aside 39 shots in all while giving his team a chance to mount a comeback, but Smith wouldn’t have it.

Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene found himself on the scoresheet after he assisted on Spezza’s tally. Duchene finished with 14:42 of playing time.

Avs rear guard Tyson Barrie finished the game ranked third on the team with 17:30 of ice time.

Colorado defenseman and Czech alternate captain Jan Hejda finished second on his squad with 21:56 of playing time.

Canada last won gold in 2007, but had earned silvers in 2008 and 2009.












RUSSIA (4) VS. USA (0)

Russia and the U.S. stayed deadlocked until the third period on Saturday, when the Russians finally figured out a way to solve USA goalkeeper Conner Hellebuyck.

Four goals in the final frame sent Russia to challenge for the gold medal and the Americans to fight for bronze on Sunday in Prague.

A goaltending duel between Hellebuyck and Columbus Blue Jacket’s tender Sergei Bobrovsky came to an end 7:17 into the third period when Russian forward Sergei Mozyakin sent the puck into the net for the eventual game-winning tally.

Russia struck again 3:02 later when Alex Ovechkin—playing in his first contest of the competition—solved Hellebuyck to extend the lead.

Vadim Shipachyov and Evgeni Malkin (empty net) each tallied after that to put the game out of reach for Team USA.

Avalanche D-man Zach Redmond was a healthy scratch for the match.

Russia, which won gold at the 2014 World Championship in Belarus, will get a chance to defend its title against Canada on Sunday at 2:45 p.m. MT in Prague. The game will air live on NBCSN.

Russia has won gold four times in the last seven years and has earned a medal in seven of the last nine World Championship tournaments.

The Czechs and Americans will meet in the bronze medal game at 8:15 a.m. MT.

Team USA last earned a medal (bronze) in 2013. The Czech Republic took home bronze in 2012, the last year the national team won a medal.

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