Canada Beats Switzerland in World Juniors, Setting Up Showdown With US
Granted it will be a cross-border semifinal and not the championship game of the best-on-best competition, but given how the USA won gold in Canada's backyard a year ago, the chance to snuff out a repeat performance by the defending champions will more than suffice for the Canadians.
"I have been thinking about playing the United States ever since what happened last year,'' said defenseman Calvin de Haan after Canada beat Switzerland 4-1 in the quarterfinals on Sunday to move to the semifinal. "It still bothers me.'
"We will be pumped. There will be a lot of emotion. We will have to stay disciplined."
Russia, meanwhile, will face Sweden in the first semifinal. The Russians trailed Finland by two goals with four minutes left in regulation time but rallied to tie the game and then won 4-3 in overtime on a goal by Yevgeni Kuznetsov.
For the fifth straight game, the Canadians surrendered the first goal of the game, but the Canucks never let up and had it not been for the spectacular play by Swiss goalie Benjamin Conz, the Canadians could have whipped their opponents by a larger margin.
Canada outshot the Swiss 50-22, including 23-7 in the first period.
Goalie Mark Visentin, who replaced Olivier Roy for the must-win Swiss match-up, got caught cheating a little in the first minute of play. A golden rule of goaltending calls for the netminder to have his skate hugged against the post when the puck is behind his net but Visentin didn't and Inti Pestoni took advantage of the mental lapse to score at 1:09 of the first period.
But Visentin was solid the rest of the way and coach Dave Cameron announced after the game his goalie will start again in the semifinal.
Canada finally tied the game on their third power play of the period when Ryan Johansen beat Conz with a low shot from the left side at 15:06 on their 15th shot.
"It was huge for us," said de Haan about the equalizer. "As soon as they took a 1-0 lead, the coach said it was early and there was a lot of hockey to play. We didn't panic."
Casey Cizikas scored the only goal of the second period on a high shot to the glove side, and the Canadians iced the victory in the third period with a pair of goals.
Louis LeBlanc ripped a quick shot from the faceoff circle to the left of Coz at 4:17, and Zack Kassian, who returned to the line-up after serving a two-game suspension for a head hit, made it 4-1 when he scored into an empty net at 18:01 after the Swiss removed their goaltender.
The mostly pro-Canadian crowd at the HSBC Arena then took to chanting, "We want USA" as time wound down.
Brayden Schenn had two assists for a tournament-leading 16 points in five games. He is two points short of the record for points in one world junior by a Canadian set in 1977 by former Buffalo Sabre Dale McCourt.
The Canadians knew the road to gold would have to go through the USA juniors at one time or another, and they said they would try to treat the match-up as just another game.
"Just treat it as another normal game," said Visentin.
Knowing that they beat Canada a year ago will help the Americans, said USA forward Jerry D'Amigo, who plays professionally in Toronto and was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"It shows we can do it. We've got the guys in there who did it last year so the mentality is we can do it and we can do it with just a lot of hard work,'' said D'Amigo.
Meanwhile, Swiss coach Richard Jost took an errant puck to the head in the first period and became the second member of his staff to get a puck to the noggin.
"I think we need to coach with helmets," said assistant coach Alex Reinhard, who had a shiner under his left eye and a souvenir of his puck to the head incident.