Team Canada will once again feature in the gold medal game at the 2022 rescheduled World Juniors after defeating Czechia in the semifinals 5-2. They have now made it to three consecutive gold medal games, with their last victory coming in 2020. This was the second time this tournament Canada has beaten Czechia, with the previous game ending 5-1 in the preliminary round. The Canadians have been the best team in this tournament so far and will have a chance to win gold on home ice for the first time since 2015.
Canada’s Second Line Steps Up
The Canadians’ second line of Logan Stankoven, Kent Johnson and Tyson Foerster were the difference makers as they combined for two goals, four assists and nine shots on goal. While Canada’s coaching staff has been tinkering with all the other lines, these three have stayed together for the majority of the tournament and delivered on the most important stage. They were able to generate offensive chances whenever they were on the ice and have been Canada’s most consistent line throughout the World Juniors.
This line will be crucial for Canada if they want to complete the perfect run and claim gold. With most of the opposition’s focus on Mason McTavish and Connor Bedard, the Canadians’ second line has been able to exploit matchups which have led to their success. Stankoven and Johnson have also been crucial on the power play, which played a huge factor against Czechia. Whether it is scoring goals, generating offensive chances or playing solid defensively, this trio has found chemistry quickly and should be a handful during the gold medal game.
Canadians Faceoff Success A Little Bit Of A Mirage
Missing Ridly Greig, who is arguably their best faceoff man, the Canadians finished 43 for 73 in the faceoff dot or 59 percent. On any normal night, this would be considered a major victory, but the percentage doesn’t tell the whole story. In fact, if it wasn’t for Dallas Stars prospect Stankoven, the Canadians’ night in the dot would be one of their worst of the tournament.
Of their four main faceoff takers, only two finished above 50 percent. Zack Ostapchuk went seven for ten on the fourth line, while Stankoven pulled off one of the best performances of the tournament going 21 for 23. As for the other two, McTavish finished 11 for 25 while Nathan Gaucher was four for 14. Faceoffs are vital to the success of Team Canada and is an area of weakness going into the finals. In fact, Czechia’s second goal was a direct result of Canada losing a faceoff. If the Canadians are keen on bringing home the gold, they need to ensure all of their centers are successful in the faceoff dot. What Stankoven pulled off is rare, and while it is not a smart idea to bet against him, it is dangerous for Team Canada to rely on him having that type of performance in the gold medal game.
Strong Game For Garand
When discussing Team Canada’s strong play this tournament, Garand’s name has not come up much. One of the main reasons was that Canada’s offence and defence were so strong, that he isn’t called upon much, having only faced 129 shots in five games. That comes out to 21.5 shots faced per game. In comparison, Austria’s Sebastian Wraneschitz, who only played in three games, faced 124 shots on goal. Safe to say, it has been a relatively easy tournament for the Kamloops Blazers goaltender up until this point.
Against Czechia, however, Garand showed why he is the reigning Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Goaltender of the Year. He made 30 saves on 32 shots and was able to hold down the fourth in the second period stopping all 16 shots he faced. Having long breaks in between shots is very tough on a goalie, but he has been able to stay engaged and ready, which has helped Canada stay perfect throughout the tournament. A player that won’t get a ton of credit thanks to the strong play of McTavish, Stankoven, Johnson and others, he has been good when he has needed to be and had another strong game against Czechia.
Canada Goes For Gold
In front of a home crowd, Team Canada will look to win their 19th gold medal at the World Juniors. This has been a fun tournament to watch so far, with the highly anticipated gold medal game set for Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022. The puck drops Friday at 8 PM ET on NHL Network in the United States and TSN in Canada.
|Team Canada||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team USA||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Austria||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Czechia||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Finland||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Germany||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Sweden||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Switzerland||Players to Watch||Roster|
All Your THW 2022 World Junior Championship Coverage
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.