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WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP UPDATE: MAY 15

by Julie Robenhymer / Buffalo Sabres

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC -- The 15th Day of the 2015 IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic was filled with anticipation and a lot of ‘What Ifs?’ Here's what you need to know:

Tyler Ennis and Canada will face off against the Czech Republic on Saturday at 9:15 a.m. ET on in the semifinals for the chance to play for gold. That game can be seen on TSN in Canada and streamed live online through NBCSports Live Extra.

The Canadians have scored 58 goals in eight games. That's 23 more than any other team in the tournament. In fact, there were nine teams in the tournament that didn't even score 23 goals, period.

Five of the top eight scorers in the tournament are Canadian, led by Jason Spezza with 13 points. Tyler Seguin is tied with Sweden's Filip Forsberg for the tournament lead with eight goals. To put it simply, the Czechs are going to have their hands full.

"They are a good team, but they are humans… They are beatable,” Czech captain Jakub Voracek said. “We just have to make sure we play the way we know how and we will have 18,000 screaming fans behind us the entire game.

"They've lost before in previous tournaments, I don't see why I couldn't happen again tomorrow. We just have to be ready to skate and play physical because when you let them play with the puck it's going to be dangerous.

“We have to make sure to hold on to the puck, skate well, play good defense and I also think the first goal is going to be very important as well."


The Canadians haven't advanced past the quarterfinals in this tournament in the past five years, but simply playing for a medal is not their goal.

"For us, tomorrow's game is do or die. We came to win and that's what we're trying to do, but it's real important to focus on the task at hand and not look ahead to what might happen. We need to win one game at a time," coach Todd McLellan said. "They're big. They're strong. They hold on to pucks. [Jaromir] Jagr is their catalyst. He makes a lot happen and we'll have to be aware of that.

"The fans are a factor, but we've lived through it once and we can do it again. It's important that we play well enough that we quiet people down. That's easier said than done, but the fact that we've experienced playing the Czechs in this building before, we know what it's going to feel like. It's going to be a good game."


In the late game on Saturday, Team USA takes on Russia in the second semi-final at 1:15 p.m. ET (live on TSN in Canada and streaming live online through NBC Sports LiveExtra) for the opportunity to play for gold.

The U.S. defeated Russia 4-2 in the preliminary round, but in Saturday's game, Russia will have some additional firepower as Alexander Ovechkin joins the team fresh off Washington's elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I just want to play for my country and for the fans. We have a huge opportunity for success again this year. Why wouldn't I want to play here?" Ovechkin, who is now playing in his 12th World Championship, said.


Russia is scoring an average of more than four goals a game in this tournament and at least one of them usually comes on the power play as they are operating at nearly 40 percent with the man advantage. Team USA is going to have to play smart, disciplined and a full 60 minutes if they want to play for a gold medal on Sunday.

"Our goal was to make it to Prague because that’s where you needed to go to play in the semifinals and for a medal and we've achieved that goal and here we are, but we're not looking for a participation trophy. We want to win the gold medal," U.S. coach Todd Richards said.

"They make it tough for you to score goals. They have some talent and some speed up front and they challenge you defensively, but nothing will change as far as our outlook and our game plan moving forward.

“We're going to prepare the players as best we can, but we want to focus on what we can do and what we can control that will lead to success and that's to play our game and execute the game plan."

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