With four teams now eliminated from the tournament, it was time for the semi-final showdowns between Sweden and Russia on one side with Canada and Finland on the other. However, before these matches could be played, it was time for the second game in the relegation series between Germany and Kazakhstan.
With Germany winning game one of the series, they could have sent Kazakhstan away from the “A” tournament next year with a victory. Kazakhstan, on the other hand, were fighting for their lives and to keep their spot in next year’s tournament. The fear of losing fueled their play as they took down the Germans 4-1. That victory means the two nations will faceoff a third and final time to see who gets relegated to the “B” tournament next year.
After the relegation game was the first semi-final of the day. It featured Sweden vs Russia and it was an exciting game from start to finish. Sweden got off to a perfect start as they scored on the opening shift just 16 seconds into the game. However, Russia answered back a few minutes later with three goals of their own to take a two goal lead. Still in the first period, Sweden brought the game to within one goal. Sweden went on to tie the game in the second period and the teams traded goals in the third to set up an exciting overtime period.
Overtime consisted of a 10 minute period of 3 on 3 hockey which gave both teams plenty of chances to score. In the end, it was Russia who was able to gain a step on the Swedish defender and beat the goalie to send Russia into the goal medal game. Once again, Sweden failed to win gold despite winning their group for the 13th straight year.
In the loss, Gustafsson finished with 1 assist and two shots while playing an impressive 23:20. He was also phenomenal in the faceoff circle, winning nearly 75% of his draws.
The next semi-final featured team Canada taking on Finland with the chance to play Russia for gold on the line. Canada was hoping to get off to a quick start as Finland completely stymied the Americans in the quarter-final for a full 60 minutes. It didn’t take long for Canada to open the scoring as they were on the board one minute and 48 seconds into the game. It was a great start for the team, but it got even better in the coming minutes. Just 77 seconds later, Canada managed to score again to open up a 2-0 lead. The ideal start got even sweeter just 50 seconds later as Canada capped off a crazy opening four minutes with three goals and a commanding lead in the game. Finland was absolutely stunned with the result and couldn’t muster any offense of their own. Canada added a fourth goal in the period before widening their lead to five goals in the second period.
From there, they easily coasted to victory and were able to enact revenge on the team that ousted them from last year’s tournament. Ville Heinola finished with two penalty minutes, three shots, and a -1 rating while playing 18:43 in the loss.
With Canada’s victory, it means that Canada will face the Russians for the gold medal. This is the same Russian team that dismantled Canada in the group stage with a massive 6-0 victory. Canada’s come a long way since then, so it will be an interesting match-up as they go for gold.
Winnipeg’s two prospects will play each other for the second time in the tournament as they battle for bronze. In their previous meeting this tournament, Sweden came away victorious with the overtime victory.
With only one day left in the tournament, there’s plenty of action and plenty of great hockey to be played.