SASKATOON, SK – Taylor Hall and his Canadian teammates are one win away from making hockey history.
Hall scored two goals as Canada beat Switzerland 6-1 on Sunday in semifinal action at the world junior hockey championship, giving the Canadians a chance at a record sixth straight gold medal.
”It’s very special,” the gifted left-winger said. ”When you’re put in that position, you do everything you can to achieve it.
”This is the opportunity of a lifetime for us, just to get to the final. To win that sixth goal medal would be unbelievable.”
Defenceman Marco Scandella’s short-handed goal in the second period proved to be the game-winner as Canada reached the final for a ninth year in a row.
They will play the winner of a later Sweden-U.S. game in the final on Tuesday night (TSN, 8 p.m. ET). Canada is guaranteed to win a medal in a 12th straight world junior tournament.
”It’s one thing to go to the world juniors, but another to be competing for a gold or silver medal,” added Hall, a favourite to go first overall in the NHL draft who hasn’t hurt his prospects with five goals in as many games at the world juniors. ”Everyone’s jacked up about it and hopefully everyone brings their A-game.”
Switzerland, which pulled out a stunning 3-2 overtime win in the quarter-finals over Russia on Saturday night, will play for the bronze medal. The only world junior medal won by the Swiss was a bronze at the 1998 tournament.
Jordan Eberle, with his sixth of the tournament, Brayden Schenn and Stefan Della Rovere also scored for Canada, which outshot the Swiss 44-21 before a less than sellout crowd of 13,427 at the Credit Union Centre.
Mauro Jorg scored Switzerland’s goal.
Travis Hamonic, Scandella’s defence partner, was shaken up as things got chippy in the final minute and he was boarded by Swiss forward Jeffrey Fuglister, who was given a major and a game misconduct.
Coach Willie Desjardins said he would have a better idea about Hamonic’s condition on Monday, but wasn’t upset at the hit.
”The guy played hard and finished his check – I don’t think it was more than that,” he said.
He was more perturbed with Canada taking four straight minor penalties in the second period, all deserved, and liked how his team stayed out of the box in the third.
The Swiss did their best to clog the neutral zone and play for counterattacks off turnovers, which worked well against Russia but wasn’t enough against a more physical Canadian team.
Coach Jakob Kolliker, who was missing top defencemen Luca Sbisa and Roman Josi for a second game in a row, said pulling off upsets on consecutive nights was too much to ask.
”We played well, but our strength was down, our batteries were down after our game with the Russians,” he said. ”We wanted to keep it close for as long as possible. The short-handed goal hurt us too much to come back.”
Notes: Canada is 18-0 and has outscored Switzerland 122-32 all-time in world junior games … Niederreiter was credited with the overtime goal in Switzerland’s 3-2 win over Russia in the quarter-finals, even though replays showed Patrick Geering redirected his shot into the net.