Two solid periods of play was all Team Canada needed as they went on to defeat the Czech Republic 5-3 in quarterfinal action at the Bell Centre on Monday.
You can forget about the opening stanza because it was bizarre and not a pretty start.
In reality, it all started in the warm-up when both teams skated out sporting red jerseys.
Canada made the change but seem to forget about their game a little bit in the first 20 minutes.
Canada actually outshot their opposition 11-4 in the first period, but the Czechs had the lone goal after a weird bounce off the referee landed on the stick of David Kase to give his country a 1-0 lead.
“I liked the fact that we (Canada) got better through the game,” said Dominique Ducharme, head coach, Canada’s National Junior team.
“They (Czech Republic) did a good job in the first period. We were not using our speed. We used our speed in the second and third period which paid off.”
The result was a bit closer than expected after Canada had their way with the Czech Republic in a pair of pre-tournament games where they outscored the Europeans by a combined total of 13-0.
Since then, Canada had been on cruise control outscoring its opponents 21-8 in their four preliminary round matches, while the Czechs managed just one win in four games.
Julien Gauthier led the Canadian attack with two third period goals to give him three at the tournament.
Mitchell Stephens added a goal and two assists. Thomas Chabot chipped in with a goal and a helper. Blake Speers was the other Canadian goal scorer. Anthony Cirelli had two assists.
Team Captain Dylan Strome was held pointless for the first time in the tournament but was very happy with the outcome.
“It’s a lot better feeling than last year when we were knocked out in the quarters,” Strome admitted.
“We seemed to be a bit nervous in the first period but came back strong later in the game. The whole team knows we have to be a lot better against Sweden.”
The Canadians outshot the Czech 41-19.
G Connor Ingram made 16 saves to record the win for Canada.
Tomas Soustal and Simon Stransky were the other Czech Republic goal scorers.
Canada now faces undefeated Sweden who blasted Slovakia 8-3 in the other quarterfinal in Montreal.
The last time Canada faced Sweden in the World Junior playoffs was the 2009 gold medal game in Ottawa, a 5-1 Canadian victory.
Prior to that, Sweden defeated Canada 6-5 in a shootout on December 31, 2010 and 5-2 on December 31, 2015.
Canadians and Sweden will meet up in Semifinal No. 2 on Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT) at the Bell Centre.
Semifinal No. 1 features Russia against the United States on Wednesday afternoon (3:00p.m.ET/noon PT) at the Bell Centre.
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