USA To Face Canada Tonight In WJT Semis

(above) No official word yet on whether Jason Zucker will play tonight against Canada

From: USA Today
by Kevin Allen

The Americans knew they would have to take down the Canadians if they wanted to successfully defend their gold medal at the world junior championships.

But they probably didn't expect the Canada-USA showdown to be Monday in the semifinals (5:30 p.m. MT, NHL Network).

Canada's 6-5 overtime loss to Sweden forced it into the quarterfinals, where it defeated Switzerland 4-1 Sunday afternoon. The Americans won their pool to secure a bye into the semifinals.

The Americans have been led by Dallas Stars prospect Jack Campbell (1.03 goals-against average) in net. He replaced Mike Lee in last year's gold-medal game and got the 6-5 overtime win against Canada in Saskatoon. That ended Canada's five-year run as world junior champions and gave the USA its second gold medal at the tournament.

University of Denver players Drew Shore and Jason Zucker have both scored for USA during the Tournament. Ten other American players have also scored in the Tournament. San Jose Sharks prospect Charlie Coyle (two goals, four assists) is their top scorer.

"We have played disciplined hockey," USA Hockey assistant executive director Jim Johannson said. "(We're) moving our feet well when defending and have had pretty consistent pressure in the offensive zone."

Canada, which features 14 former first-round picks, is led by Brayden Schenn, who opened the season with the Los Angeles Kings. He has a team-high seven goals, nine assists, 16 points and plus-10 rating. Their 32 goals at the tournament are divided among 15 players.

Louis Leblanc, Ryan Johansen, Casey Cizikas and Zack Kassian (in his first game back from a suspension) scored for Canada in Sunday's victory against Switzerland. The USA beat the Swiss 2-1 on New Year's Eve.

The other semifinal will be Sweden vs. Russia (1:30 p.m. ET). The Russians trailed Finland by two goals with four minutes left in Sunday's quarterfinal but rallied for a 4-3 overtime victory.


Twister said...

I can't wait for this game tonight. Last year's game was a classic, and this matchup has similar potential. Hopefully we get to see Zucker back in the lineup.

Go USA!!

dggoddard said...

Go USA & good luck to the DU boyz.

vizoroo said...

Hope we get to see Zucker and Shore on the ice tonight!

du78 said...

USA forgot to show up as Team Canada put on a clinic. Hopefully they show up for the Bronze Medal game on Wednesday against Sweden. They were never in the game.

puck swami said...

It was much more Canada showing up than our boys not showing up.

Canada was so much more motivated, prepared and focused that the game was not competitive.

I think even if the USA had played their best, they still would have been skated out of the building. That's how good Canada was tonight.

Anonymous said...

Horrible game by Team USA tonight.......

Twister said...

Wow, what a disappointment. I couldn't wait to sit down and watch this game, eagerly anticipating a hotly-contested, hard-fought, exciting game between two rivals. Instead Team Canada imposed its will, outcompeting and outworking our guys and dominating the game. I should have turned it off after the 1st period and just watched the Orange Bowl.

My guess is the blame can be spread around. Allain and the coaches seemed unprepared and unable to make adjustments during the course of the game, and the players certainly seemed to lack grit, determination, and passion, and seemed content to go through the motions. Bizarre game. It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall in the lockerroom between periods.

All in all, it's not the end of the world, but this is a big setback for the junior team. It's as if these guys expected to just show up and win, based on reputation and/or last year's result. As we all know it doesn't work that way. I sure hope these guys check their egos at the door tomorrow and come up with a better performance against Sweden.