World Championship Roundup: Final Four is Set

USA, Canada, Finland, Germany – four teams from the same preliminary round group – will make up the final four at the World Championship in Riga after an exciting day of playoff action.
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Canada Upsets Top-Seeded Russia

In what's always seen as a marquee matchup in international play, Canada, the lowest-seeded team in the playoffs, beat the top-seeded Russia 2-1 in overtime.

Canada will meet up with the United States on Saturday, a big moment for Canada after managing a playoff spot by just one point on the final day of the preliminary round.

Goaltending was the highlight of the game. Sergei Bobrovsky, playing in his first game action in 12 days, made 22 stops, while Darcy Kuemper played his best game of the tournament for Canada with 24.

The game needed 34 minutes to find the first goal-scorer. There, Yevgeni Timkin scored on a scramble in front of the net, with  Kuemper missing the puck with his blocker before Timkin was able to get the puck and score.

Canada was desperate to score, and at 45:03, they finally found a way to beat Bobrovsky. With Vladimir Tarasenko in the box for Russia, Adam Henrique was able to beat Bobrovsky glove high on the man advantage to knot the contest at one.

The game required overtime to decide the winner. There, Troy Stecher made a great play around two Russian defenders to find Andrew Mangiapane all alone. Mangiapane made no mistake, potting the goal to lift his country to the victory.

Slovaks No Match for the United States

In a tournament where Slovakia found themselves on top of the Group A standings on occasion, they'll be heading home early after a 6-1 loss to the United States to open up the quarter-finals.

USA will play Canada in the afternoon semifinal, a rematch of USA's win on the opening weekend of the tournament. USA has a shot to win a medal for the sixth time since 1996, with all five times previously being a bronze medal. USA has not won gold since 1960 back when the Winter Olympics doubled as the World Championship.

A strong first period helped set the standard for USA's play. At 13:08, Brian Boyle's second of the tournament was too much for Adam Huska, beating him under the glove with a wrist shot. Two minutes later, Colin Blackwell doubled the lead and Conor Garland scored with 30 seconds left to make it 3-0, a lead that proved to be too much for Slovakia. 

Still, the Slovaks weren't going to back down without a fight. Peter Cehlarik scored 12:12 into the second for Slovakia's only goal of the game. But just when Slovakia looked to have some life, Blackwell's second of the game and third of the tournament made it 4-1. Sasha Chmelevski and Garland both scored in the final 15 minutes of the game to make it 6-0.

Germany Comes from Behind to Advance

Germany will play for a medal for the first time since 2010 and the second time since 1953 after coming from behind to beat Switzerland 3-2 in the shootout.

The Germans will meet with Finland in the later semifinal on Saturday afternoon. Switzerland, who was one of the favorites to compete for gold this year, will miss the medal round for the second consecutive tournament after losing to Sweden in the gold medal game in 2018.

Germany was by far the better team, but the score didn't represent that for 59 minutes of play. Ramon Untersander opened things up at 15:17 when he beat Mathias Niederberger's glove after some good passing by Philipp Kurashev and Santeri Alatalo to make it 1-0. 

Fabrice Herzog made it 2-0 at 33:26 to put Switzerland in a good spot after Germany had taken the momentum away. But the Germans did score late in the period to finally see a reward for their good play, with Tom Kuhnhackl beating Leo Genoni with under three minutes to go in the second period to give the team some life. 

Switzerland, however, looked like they were going to be able to hang on. Despite being outshot 13-4 in the third period, Switzerland did a good job of limiting Germany's high-danger scoring chances and Genoni stepped up to the plate in a big way. But at 59:16, Leon Gawanke tied the game up after scoring in an undetected location near the net, forcing extra time in a tight, competitive contest. 

Overtime solved nothing, but Germany was able to secure the come-from-behind victory in the shootout on the heels of a Marcel Noebels one-handed goal in the skills competition, sending Germany off to the next round.

Finland Shuts Out Czechs

The defending world champions will have another chance at gold as Finland beat the Czech Republic 1-0 on Thursday evening in Riga.

The lone goal came at 32:55 when Jere Innala scored on the doorstep after Simon Hrubec fumbled Iiro Pakarinen's shot. Both Hrubec and Jussi Olkinuora were perfect from there on out, stopping 23 and 28 shots respectively.

Finland will play Germany in a rematch of Finland's 2-1 victory in the preliminary round last week.


Three Stars

1. Conor Garland, F (USA): Two goals again for one of the best players in the tournament. He's been outstanding.

2. Sergei Bobrovsky, G (ROC): To come in cold after seeing no on-ice action in a couple of weeks to nearly pitch a shutout against Canada is quite something.

3. Darcy Kuemper, G (CAN): At the other end of the ice, Kuemper picked a good day to play his best hockey of the tournament.


Semifinal schedule

Canada vs. USA - 7:15 AM ET
Finland vs. Germany - 11:15 AM ET


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