GLENDALE – Coyotes goalie Mike Smith and his Team Canada teammates beat Czech Republic, 2-0, on Saturday to advance to the championship game of the 2015 IIHF World Championship in Prague.
Smith stopped all 23 shots he faced against the host nation, two days after he stopped all 24 shots he faced vs. Belarus in the quarterfinals. Smith will enter Sunday’s gold medal game with a shutout streak of 137 minutes and 16 seconds.
|Mike Smith. Photo by Getty Images. |
"I think we played a solid game and that's most important," Smith told reporters after Saturday’s win, his seventh at this event. "We were in a tight hockey game all the way through and we handled it very well."
Team Canada won the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Sochi last year. Smith was the third-string goalie for that team but he did not play in any of Canada’s games. At this event, he has played a key role; he has given up just 11 goals through the first nine games and has recorded a .931 save percentage – third best in the tournament.
"Smitty was unbelievable," Canadian defenseman Tyson Barrie told reporters after Saturday’s game. "The Czechs came out firing the first 10 minutes there. He kind of kept us in it. He's been doing that all tournament though. He's been outstanding and we're lucky to have him back there."
Canada last won the gold medal at this tournament in 2007 when Coyotes captain Shane Doan was team captain.
Meanwhile, Russia – the defending champion – defeated the United States, 4-0, in the other semifinal played on Saturday and will face Canada in the gold medal game.
Coyotes defenseman Connor Murphy and John Moore, and forward Mark Arcobello all played for the United States, which will take on Czech Republic in the bronze medal game on Sunday.