Monday, January 3, 2011
Canada knocks out U.S. in semis
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- One video clip was all Curtis Hamilton and his Canadian teammates needed to see for motivation to beat the United States in the semifinals of the World Junior Hockey Championships.
The clip, used by Canadian cable channel The Sports Network to promote its coverage, featured the U.S. winning the gold medal in overtime against Canada last year. There was no way the Canadians would let it happen again.
"It lit a little fire under us," Canada captain Ryan Ellis said. "All the guys that were bashing us in the media saying how we're not skilled and we're underdogs, I think that helped us, too. So thanks for that."
Mark Visentin made 22 saves in a 4-1 win over the U.S. on Monday night and Canada got goals from Hamilton, Quinton Howden, Ryan Johansen and Zack Kassian to earn a matchup with Russia on Wednesday night in the tournament's gold-medal game.
Russia beat Sweden 4-3 in a shootout earlier Monday, with Denis Golubev scoring the deciding goal.
"We've all seen that John Carlson goal on TSN 100 times probably," Hamilton said. "It means a lot to us, but it means even more to those guys that were here last year."
The U.S. will face Sweden for the bronze, seeking its first medal on home soil. The tournament has been staged four previous times in the United States.
Canada is looking for its 16th gold medal since the tournament began in 1977 and will make its 10th straight appearance in the title game. Russia is in the final for the first time since 2007, when it lost 4-2 to Canada. The Canadians are 7-5 in gold-medal games against the Russians.
Chris Brown spoiled Visentin's shutout bid with a power-play goal with 10:23 remaining. Jack Campbell made 37 saves for the U.S., which fell to 6-28-3 against Canada in tournament play.
"The fact that they beat us last year on our home soil, we wanted to get that medal back really bad," Kassian said. "We played hard, we played physical but we played smart. Now we're one step closer."
Canada controlled the play during the first period, outshooting the United States 12-5 and scoring the game's first two goals. That energized a charged-up crowd at sold-out HSBC Arena, where about 80 percent of the fans were Canadians who made the short trip over the border.
Hamilton struck first, converting a rebound 2:38 into the game after Campbell made a diving save on Hamilton's backhander. With 6:06 left, Howden tapped in a nice feed from Brett Connolly to put Canada up 2-0.
"We cycled, we crashed and banged," Visentin said. "It was basically everything we tried to do and we forced our will on the other team."
That early effort impressed Canadian coach Dave Cameron, too.
"We've shown it's a pretty good system to play that way," Cameron said. "And that's why we're going for the gold medal."
About 5 minutes into the second period, Visentin stopped a wrist shot by Nick Bjugstad on the game's first power play. Canada scored about a minute later, while the U.S. was down two men. Johansen swiped at a rebound from the slot after Campbell made an initial stop on a point shot.
Kassian made it 4-0 just 6 minutes into the third period, wristing a shot between Campbell's legs to finish a breakaway.
"You could say they came out with a lot of momentum, but you could also say that we came out flat," Brown said.
Brown's goal was the only blemish for Canada. The U.S. was outshot 13-6 in the final period as Canada effectively shut down any attempt by the Americans to get back into the game.
"The way we played, we didn't deserve to win," U.S. coach Keith Allain said. "In hockey, you usually get what you deserve."
Switzerland forward Tristan Scherwey will miss his team's game for fifth place against Finland after being issued a one-game suspension for a hit to the head. Scherwey was issued the suspension for checking Canadian forward Carter Ashton in the Swiss' 4-1 loss in a quarterfinal game Sunday. The suspension was announced by disciplinary judge Dan Marouelli after Scherwey was assessed a 2-minute minor penalty and a 10-minute misconduct.