Canada humble United States to set up revenge mission against Czech Republic

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Team Canada beat the United States 6-2 on Wednesday
Team Canada beat the United States 6-2 on Wednesday

Canada's youngsters will play for the World Juniors gold medal for the second time in just under five months, as they thrashed the United States 6-2 on Wednesday.

One of the biggest rivalries in hockey once again went the way of Canada, although it didn't look like that would be the case early on. Team USA raced into a 2-0 lead after just 11 minutes of the first period, but yet another goal from 17-year-old Canadian Connor Bedard proved to be the turning point.

Team Canada scored six unanswered goals as they booked their place in Thursday's final with Czech Republic, the only team to beat them in the tournament this winter. Both teams head into the final clash full of confidence, but as they say, there can only be one winner.

It was the most one-sided result in recent history between the U20 sides of both Canada and USA, although the scoreline really didn't tell the tale. Canada were slow out of the locker room at Scotiabank Centre, and team USA looked the much stronger team in the first period.

Early goals from Logan Cooley and Kenny Connors put the visitors ahead, but Bedard pulled one back as he extended his record-breaking scoring run, and began the onslaught. Bedard has the most all-time goals (17) and points (36) by a Canadian at the event and also owns the points record (23) at a single tournament by a Canadian player.

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Goals from Logan Stankoven, Adam Fantilli, Brandt Clarke and two from Joshua Roy put six on the board for Canada, but team USA had two goals overturned at crucial stages in the match. Two successful coaches challenges meant that USA were shutout for almost 50 minutes, with young goaltender Thomas Milic stopping 43 of the 45 shots he faced.

Canada humble United States to set up revenge mission against Czech RepublicThomas Milic had the 'game of his life' against Team USA

"Oh man, that was incredible. Definitely the coolest moment of my hockey career and maybe of my life, too. It's awesome having that much support back home and all across Canada," he said, after picking up the player of the match award.

And Canada head coach Dennis Williams was proud of their approach after an awful start. "I thought we started off a little rough and we were behind pretty quickly 2-0 and shots were lopsided.

"I thought out bench did a good job just staying calm, sticking to the game plan. Obviously we had good contribution from everybody up and down our line-up and our best player tonight was our goaltender, which definitely helped."

Canada humble United States to set up revenge mission against Czech RepublicCanada scored six unanswered goals to stun USA

But the mood was very different in the post-match interview with USA head coach Rand Pecknold, who still managed to let his feelings out about the refereeing decisions despite claiming he 'wouldn't comment'. "I would say I'm pretty frustrated with the two disallowed goals but I'm not going to comment on officiating other than, you know, you've got 18, 19-year-old kids in this environment and you had two taken away.

"That's a huge part of the game for sure. But I'm not going to comment on the officials. The head officials can deal with that."

Canada will face Czech Republic on Thursday in the gold medal match, with the finalists the only side to beat them in the competition this year. Czech Republic won 5-2 as Canada made a shaky start, but since switching to Milic as their goaltender the following game, they've been unbeaten.

Joseph McBride

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