Team USA dropped its first game of the World Junior Championships on Friday, a 4-1 decision to Canada in the semifinals. With the win, Canada advances to the Championship Game against Sweden, while the US faces Russia in the Bronze Medal Game. Both games will be played tomorrow. (For more coverage from Czech Republic, read Blake Geoffrion’s contributions in Blake's Blog.)
The Americans out-shot the Canadians 34-24, but were unable to convert the chances into goals. The teams skated to a scoreless first period, but Canada struck 2:46 into the second when Shawn Matthias recorded his third goal of the tournament. Karl Alzner’s power-play tally at the 10:00 mark of the period gave Canada a 2-0 lead.
Colton Gillies and Brad Marchand scored 0:20 apart, midway through the third period to seal the win. James van Riemsdyk scored the US goal with 6:34 remaining in regulation. The Americans finished the game with a two-man advantage, but were unable to draw any closer.
Predators prospect Jeremy Smith stopped 20-of-24 shots in net for Team USA, while Steve Mason made 33 saves for Team Canada. In five appearances thus far in the tournament, Smith ranks second among all goaltenders with a 1.93 goals against average and tied for fourth with a .914 save percentage.