Jan 032010

WJHC 2010 Team Canada played the first semi-final of the World Junior Hockey Championships this afternoon against a very surprising Swiss team. The Swiss found their way to the semi-finals by stunning Russia 3-2 in overtime during their quarter final game on Saturday. To say this was an upset is a huge understatement. I don’t think that when the tournament began there was anyone, other than the odd delusional Swiss fan, that would have predicted they would be playing in the semi-finals.

The game started pretty much as predicted with Canada getting an early goal on the power play off the stick of Edmonton Oilers prospect Jordan Eberle. After that, the rest of the first period was scoreless although the Canadians dominated much of the play but were unable to solve Swiss goalie Benjamin Conz. Conz was one of the main reasons the Swiss beat Russia yesterday as he had 50 saves on 52 shots. Both teams had powerplays throughout the remainder of the first.

Canada came out flat to start the second period and gave the Swiss a couple of early power plays chances to even the score but the Canadians ended up with a great short handed goal by Marco Scandella. This was followed less than 2 minutes later with a great play by Taylor Hall to make it 3-0. Canada continued to play lazy and soon after took their third penalty of the period. The Swiss finally capitalized to make it 3-1. The Canadians still didn’t learn and took their 4th penalty of the period but they were able to kill this penalty off and were able to close out the period with a 3-1 lead.

Canada came out strong to start the third period and pretty much salted the game away just less than 3 minutes into the period as Brayden Schenn scored an even strength goal to lift Canada to a 4-1 lead. A very tired Swiss team started taking penalties during the middle part of the period but the Canadians were unable to score but did continue to take time off the clock. Finally with under 4 minutes to go the Canadians finally put the game to bed with goals by Stefan Della-Rovere and Taylor Hall and 6-1 was the final score.

The game did end on a nasty note though as Swiss forward Jeffrey Fuglister took Canadian defender Travis Hamonic into the boards from behind deep in the Canadian zone. Hamonic left the ice holding his left arm and his condition was unknown at this time. Fuglister received a 5 minute major penalty and a game misconduct for the hit and could be suspended for the bronze medal game on Tuesday. The final shots in the game favored Canada 44-21.

Canada plays in the gold medal game for the 9th straight year on Tuesday against the winner of the USA vs. Sweden to be played later tonight. The Swiss will play the bronze medal game earlier on Tuesday against the loser of the same game. Canada will need to play better than they have the last 2 games though if they are to make it 6 gold medals in a row. Both Sweden and the USA will be a tough opponent and with Canada already beating the USA they could be the tougher of the 2 opponents with the USA having lots to prove and avenge.

UPDATE: Canadian defenceman Travis Hamonic will indeed miss the finals with a suspected separated shoulder.

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