EDMONTON (NEWS 1130) – Team Canada is set to meet Team Russia at the first of two semifinal games at the world junior men’s hockey championship in Edmonton, Monday.
The two teams meet Monday afternoon for the first time since a tense pre-tournament affair on Dec. 23 that Canada won 1-0 on a goal from defenseman Jamie Drysdale.
The winner will play in Tuesday night’s gold-medal game against the winner of the second semifinal matchup between Finland and the United States.
The losers of both semifinal games will play in the bronze-medal game, also scheduled for Tuesday.
It’s fair to say the Canadians have cruised through the tournament so far. They’ve outscored their opponents 36-4 and were in complete control in their quarterfinal win, Saturday.
Canada blanked the Czechs in a 3-0 while Russia edged Germany 2-1.
Monday’s game will be different, however. The Russians are captained by highly touted Canucks prospect Vasili Podkolzin and boast arguably the best goaltender in the tournament in Nashville first-round pick Yaroslav Askarov.
It was Russia whom Canada rallied to beat in an epic gold medal game last year in the Czech Republic, where Canada defeated Russia 4-3. Canada erased a 3-1 deficit in the third period en route to their 18th gold medal win all-time.
The United States reached this year’s semifinal thanks to a 5-2 win over Slovakia on Saturday night, with a pair of goals from John Farinacci.
The Finns needed a game-winning goal from Roni Hirvonen with less than 30 seconds to play to eliminate the Swedes in quarterfinal play to advance to the next round.
Canada hopes to be the first repeat champion since 2009, a year in which they captured their fifth consecutive gold medal.
The puck drops at 3 p.m. PST.