Canada’s World Juniors did not start well with an opening game loss to Czechia. It was a game that many were disappointed about with the Canadians blowing the lead, the goaltending struggled and they did not play as a team but as individuals. Five games later, they are in a semi-final tilt against their neighbouring rivals, the United States.
Breath-taking brilliance from Connor Bedard in overtime versus the Slovakians helped them prevail in the quarter-finals; then on the other side of the bracket, the United States had a much easier time with a dominant 11-1 win over Germany.
In the round-robin, the US finished first in Group B ahead of Finland and Slovakia. Like Canada, they did suffer a loss coming at the hands of the Slovakians, who put six by the US goaltender Kaidan Mbereko in his only start of the tournament. Ryan Ufko has led the way from the blueline for the US with seven points (all assists) while the offensive has been a collective effort by the forward group with Logan Cooley, Jimmy Snuggerud, and Cutter Gauthier all contributing.
Since that Czechia game, Canada has been firing home the goals. Bedard has been outstanding, to say the least, with 21 points (8 goals, 13 assists) but it cannot be discounted how many attacking threats Canada has. Logan Stankoven, Dylan Guenther, and Joshua Roy have shown for their country in many ways throughout the tournament and tonight is another chance.
For Canada to have success tonight, they will need to keep that offensive presence alive if they want to advance to the final. However, the biggest area of adjustment is defensive. Canada let the lead slip away from them in the quarter finals and tonight that cannot happen. The United States has too much firepower to take that chance.
My final prediction for this semi-final matchup is for Canada to come away with a win in a tight hockey game. Connor Bedard nets home a pair of goals with Canada advancing after a 5-3 victory.