Good news for Canadian hockey fans – and it doesn’t even involve our self-important, hockey-hating buddies, Gary B. or Bob G. (Although Gretz recently sounded off on the fortunes of the NHL, read here if you still care.) No, this hockey news is that the Canadian World Junior Hockey Team reached the Gold Medal game with a 3-1 win over the Czech Republic in Sunday’s semi-final. Canada is now set to face a familiar enemy on Tuesday night, as the Russians beat the host United States to also advance.
The score lines from Sunday’s games differed from what we were used to, as it was the Russians posting the blowout victory with Canada fighting to a closer two-goal margin. Czech goaltender and St.Louis Blues prospect Merek Schwarz put on a Hasek-like performance in the loss – stopping 39 of 42 shots faced. Boston Bruin sniper Patrice Bergeron all but iced the victory with the team’s third goal at 12:34 of the second period, as Canada’s defense was EXTREMELY stingy with shots getting through to goalie Jeff Glass.
In the other semi-final, Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin both had a pair of goals in Russia’s 7-2 thrashing of the States, putting to rest the ridiculous thought that the Americans could win anything in hockey. The NHL’s top two draft picks will now face a tougher test in what is dubbed Canada’s “Best-Ever Junior Team.” We’ll know by Wednesday.