Canada and Finland won semifinals on Saturday to ensure a third consecutive gold medal showdown between the teams at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
Finland won gold in Slovakia in 2019, the 2020 tournament was canceled due to the pandemic and Canada won gold in Latvia last year. This time Finland will have home ice for Sunday’s league game at Nokia Arena.
“We know the building will rock and the Finns will be playing for gold at home,” said Canada forward Dylan Cozens. “But we have to try and make a strong start and not let it happen [Finland] Build momentum with your fans.”
Cozens scored two goals and an assist in Canada’s 6-1 win over the Czech Republic. In the other semi-final, Finland beat the USA 4-3.
CLOCK | Canada Reach Third Consecutive Men’s Ice Hockey World Championships Finals:
Canada pulled away midway through the second period with three goals in three minutes and 19 seconds. Kent Johnson’s goal was sandwiched between power play goals from Adam Lowry and Matt Barzal.
“The Czechs did well in the penalty kill all tournament and we capitalized on some power plays tonight,” said Canada head coach Claude Julien. “We will take some time and study Finland’s penalty shootout and hopefully find a solution to how we were able to do it against the Czechs.
David Krejci opened the scoring for the Czech Republic and Cozens leveled the game late in the first period. Drake Batherson had two assists.
“We came here to win,” said Canada defender Ryan Graves. “We are proud of our hockey. As Canadians, we have hockey in our blood, so I know everyone at home is dying for us to get the gold.
“It’s an honor to play for your country and that’s the whole reason we come here.”
Confidence level goes to the final
Cole Sillinger had an insurance goal for the Canadians, who overtook the Czech Republic by 35:26. Canadian goalkeeper Chris Dreidger made 25 saves.
“Tomorrow before the [Finnish fans]there will be some adversity and we have to fight our way through it,” said Canadian striker Pierre-Luc Dubois. “We have a lot of confidence and we know what we are capable of.”
The Americans will play the Czech Republic for bronze on Sunday.
The Finns won their first Olympic title this year in Beijing.
“It’s something special,” said defender Mikko Lehtonen. “At the moment it’s always a game. It’s a final. It doesn’t matter who you play against, but it’s always special for us in front of the home fans.”
Nate Schmidt, Sean Farrell and Adam Gaudette scored for the Americans. Jeremy Swayman stopped 22 shots.
“It’s definitely a tough question,” Farrell said. “We fought as hard as we could but they are a really good team and they came out on top at the end. We just need to refocus and be ready to fight for bronze tomorrow.”