Canada weathered the storm that was an upstart Czech Republic squad Thursday at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship, earning a 7-2 victory at the KeyBank Centre in Buffalo, NY.
The Czech Republic got on the board first, but Canada responded 10 minutes later as Regina Pats captain Sam Steel (Anaheim Ducks) was the beneficiary of a one-timer opportunity from Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman Kale Clague (Los Angeles Kings) to get the home side on the board.
After Drake Batherson scored late in the first, he put Canada up by two near the midway mark of the second period. Maxime Comtois, Jordan Kyrou and Batherson’s hat trick goal came all came in the next 9:10 of the game to blow things wide open. WHL players helped with that offensive explosion. Calgary Hitmen defenceman Jake Bean (Carolina Hurricanes) picked up a secondary assist on Canada’s third goal, Moose Jaw Warriors captain Brett Howden (Tampa Bay Lightning) earned his seventh point of the tournament with an assist and Canada’s fourth goal came with assists from Steel and Canadian captain Dillon Dube (Calgary Flames).
In the third, Boris Katchouk scored Canada’s lone goal in the third to round out the team’s scoring while Filip Zadina scored his second of the game for the Czech Republic. Saskatoon Blades defenceman Libor Hajek earned the lone assist on Zadina’s goal.
Everett Silvertips goaltender Carter Hart (Philadelphia Flyers) stopped 18 of 20 shots in the victory.
Canada will now advance to the gold medal game Friday, January 5 (6: 00 p.m. MST) against Sweden. Seven WHL players will compete for the bronze medal as the Czech Republic and United States will battle for bronze.
Two other games took place on quarterfinal Thursday at the tournament. Denmark topped Belarus 3-2 to avoid relegation at the tournament while Sweden down the United States 4-2 to earn a spot in Friday’s gold medal game.
F Igor Martynov, Victoria Royals: 6GP – 2-1-3 – 6 SOG
F Vladislav Mikhalchuk, Prince George Cougars: 5GP – 0-0-0 – 3 SOG
D Vladislav Yeryomenko, Calgary Hitmen: 6GP – 1-3-4 – 10 SOG
D Jake Bean, Calgary Hitmen: 6GP – 0-3-3 – 11 SOG
D Kale Clague, Brandon Wheat Kings: 5GP – 0-2-2 – 13 SOG
F Dillon Dube, Kelowna Rockets: 6GP – 2-2-4 – 25 SOG
D Cal Foote, Kelowna Rockets: 6GP – 0-3-3 – 1 SOG
G Carter Hart, Everett Silvertips: 4GP – 1.97 GAA, .917 SV%, 110/120, 1SO
F Brett Howden, Moose Jaw Warriors: 6GP – 3-4-7 – 14 SOG
F Sam Steel, Regina Pats: 6GP – 4-4-8 – 18 SOG
F Tyler Steenbergen, Swift Current Broncos: 6GP – 0-1-1 – 4 SOG
D Vojtech Budik, Prince Albert Raiders: 6GP – 0-5-5 – 5 SOG
D Libor Hajek, Saskatoon Blades: 6GP – 1-6-7 – 11 SOG
D Filip Kral, Spokane Chiefs: 6GP – 1-0-1 – 6 SOG
F Kristian Reichel, Red Deer Rebels: 6GP – 3-1-4 – 9 SOG
D Ondrej Vala, Kamloops Blazers: 6GP – 0-0-0 – 6 SOG
F Joachim Blichfeld, Portland Winterhawks: 6GP – 3-3-6 – 24 SOG
F Aleksi Heponiemi, Swift Current Broncos: 5GP – 2-0-2 – 8 SOG
D Henri Jokiharju, Portland Winterhawks: 5GP – 2-2-4 – 19 SOG
D Juuso Valimaki, Tri-City Americans: 5GP – 1-3-4 – 11 SOG
D Artyom Minulin, Swift Current Broncos: 5GP – 0-0-0 – 6 SOG
D Martin Bodak, Kootenay ICE: 5GP – 3-0-3 – 9 SOG
F Milos Roman, Vancouver Giants: 5GP – 2-0-2 – 8 SOG
F Justin Sigrist, Kamloops Blazers: 5GP – 0-1-1 – 5 SOG
F Kieffer Bellows, Portland Winterhawks: 6GP – 7-0-7 – 33 SOG
F Kailer Yamamoto, Spokane Chiefs: 6GP – 2-2-4 – 12 SOG