Canada blanks Czech Republic en route to semifinals at world juniors

Canada advanced to the semifinals of the world junior men’s hockey championship with a 3-0 win over the Czech Republic on Saturday.

Goaltender Devon Levi posted a 29-save shutout and Dylan Cozens had a goal and an assist for the host country.

Connor McMichael scored into an empty net and defenceman Bowen Byram also scored for Canada at Rogers Place.

The Canadians awaits the outcome of a later quarter-final between the United States and Slovakia to know their semifinal opponent Monday.

An American win would have Canada facing Russia on Monday, but the Canadians would draw the Slovaks in the event of them upsetting the U.S.

WATCH | Canada moves on to semis at world juniors: 

Bowen Byram, Dylan Cozens and Connor McMichael each scored in Canada’ 3-0 victory over the Czech Republic in quarter-final action at the world junior hockey championship. 0:30

Russia reached the semifinals with a 2-1 quarterfinal win over Germany, while Finland downed Sweden 3-2 to advance.

Canada was the only team to go undefeated in the preliminary round at 4-0 to top Pool A. The Czech Republic (2-2) ranked fourth in Pool B.

Nick Malik, who spend part of last season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, stopped 22 shots in the loss.

WATCH | Finland’s late winner over Sweden: 

Roni Hirvonen, selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs 59th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, sends Finland to the world juniors semifinals with a 3-2 victory over Sweden. 0:28

Canada led 2-0 after the opening period on goals from co-captains Cozens and Byram.

The host country didn’t dominate puck possession as it did in a 4-1 win over Finland to cap the round-robin, however.

The Czechs battled hard for the puck to make Canada chase them, and often clogged the neutral zone to force the Canadians to jump and chase.

But Canada’s grinding forecheck in the third period shrunk the Czech Republic’s chances of a comeback.

WATCH | Sweden’s Soderblom shoots and scores between-his-legs again: 

Elmer Soderblom shoots and scores from between-his-legs to put Sweden up 2-0 during their quarter-final against Sweden. 0:28

Czech coach Karel Mlejnek pulled Malik for an extra attacker with five and a half minutes to play in regulation, but McMichael scored an empty-netter at 17:11.

The Czech couldn’t produce a power-play goal with less than two minutes to play when Quinton Byfield was penalized for hooking.

Canada outshot the Czechs 11-6 in a scoreless, penalty-free second period.

With a hard-working backcheck, Canadian forward Peyton Krebs prevented an odd-man Czech chance off a turnover late in the period.

WATCH | Russia advances to world junior semis:

Vasili Ponomaryov and Danil Bashkirov scored for Russia as they defeated German 2-1 at the world junior men’s hockey championship. 0:29

Levi played his busiest period of the tournament stopping all 12 shots he faced in the first.

With eight attempts on Malik in the opening frame, Canada was outshot in a period for the first time in the tournament.

But seconds after Adam Raska’s interference penalty expired, Byram scored his first of the tournament squeezing a shot under Malik’s right armpit at 11:39.

Cozens scored Canada’s first goal for the second time in as many games.

Canada’s Cozens leads the way

Connor McMichael flipped the puck up ice to Cozens on a breakaway. The Buffalo Sabres prospect shovelled the puck between Malik’s pads at 8:22.

Byram and Cozens are alternating the captaincy in the absence of injured Kirby Dach.

Canada was minus forward Alex Newhook, who injured his shoulder in the Finland game.

Team Canada continues their perfect run with a 3-0 victory over Czech Republic in the quarter-finals of the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Connor Zary centred a line with wingers Krebs and Cole Perfetti in Newhook’s absence, and defenceman Jordan Spence also drew into the lineup.

Cozens has a team-leading seven goals and six assists in five games.

With 22 combined points from both the 2020 and 2021 world junior tournaments, Cozens ranks sixth all-time for Canada ahead of John Tavares (20) and behind Jason Allison (24).

Finland completes thrilling comeback 

Roni Hirvonen scored with 25 seconds remaining and Finland edged Sweden 3-2 in quarter-final action Saturday at the world junior hockey championship.

Finland completed a comeback from a 2-0 first-period deficit with two goals in the game’s final 10 minutes.

Henri Nikkanen and Anton Lundell also scored for the Finns. Lucas Raymond and Elmer Soderblom scored for Sweden. Earlier Saturday, Russia edged Germany 2-1 to advance to the semifinals. 

Saturday’s last remaining quarter-final matchup sees the United States meet Slovakia.

Raymond opened the scoring at 14:28 f the first period, and then set up Soderblom’s goal less than two minutes later.

Nikkanen drew Finland within one with the only goal of the second period.

Lundell took advantage of a late Swedish penalty and scored his fourth goal of the tournament to tie the game 2-2 with just under nine minutes remaining.

Hirvonen completed Finland’s comeback, tucking the puck in from behind the Swedish goal with time running out.

Russia edges Germany

Earlier, Russia overcame a determined German team to advance to the semifinals.

Vasili Ponomaryov and Danil Bashkirov scored for Russia, while goaltender Yaroslav Askarov made 18 saves. 

Florian Elias scored his fourth goal and picked up his ninth point for Germany. Florian Bugl made 25 saves. Germany had a potentially game-tying shot go of the crossbar of the Russian goal in the third period.

Elias’s linemates Tim Stuetzle and John Peterka finished the tournament with 10 points each. Stuetzle, drafted third overall in the 2020 draft by Ottawa, is expected in the Senators camp when it opens Sunday.

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