Canada says nyet to Russia

U18: Scores by Rychel, Dumba push Canadians into semi-finals

Alcaplast Arena Breclav  Czech Republic

Canada will play against the U.S. in the U18 world championship semi-final on Friday. Finland will take on Sweden in the other semi-final. Photo: Jana Chytilova / HHOF-IIHF Images

Russia – Canada 2-4 (0-2, 1-1, 1-1)

BRECLAV – Canada defeated Russia 4-2 in the second quarter-final of the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. Tight checking and goals by Matt Dumba, Kerby Rychel and Felix Girard propelled the Canadians into a rematch with defending champions United States in the semi-final.

“Everybody was prepared and we were ready to take on a great team,” said defenceman Darnell Nurse. “I think being physical was something we established off the bat and were able to carry it through the game and be successful. When you have a skilled team like that, they can be very dangerous and it’s important to keep them away from the ice.”

Coming out of the second intermission down 3-1 flying and fighting for their playoff lives, the Russians pressed but could not get past Canada’s aggressive checking. Then at 11:50 Gemel Smith got the puck in the Russian zone and took a shot at Andrei Vasilevski. Vasilevski gave up the long rebound to Felix Girard, and Girard put in in to give Canada a commanding 4-1 lead with less than nine minutes to go in the period. In the final few minutes of the second frame, Canada managed to turn around what had been a quiet period offensively as the team took a grand total of five shots on net. After Gemel Smith’s breakaway shot hit off the post and bounced out, Troy Bourke took the puck into the Russian zone and found Kerby Rychel coming in late on the rush for Canada’s third goal of the game. While Russia’s offence picked up the pace in the second period, the team scored just once in 15 shots on Matt Murray, coming when Alexei Filippov got enough on the puck while being hauled down by a Canadian defender to get it past the Canadian goaltender. Anton Slepyshev added another late in the third, but it was too little, too late for the Russians.

The rivalry between the two teams came out even before the game as both teams were jawing at each other at centre ice during the warmup and had to be called back by their coaches.

“Yeah we were talking, fortunately for us our bite was louder than our bark,” said Nurse. “Everyone really responded and we backed up our words.”

Canada did a good job keeping the Russians pinned in their own zone and maintaining puck possession through the first period. Matt Dumba opened the scoring with his fifth goal, giving the defenceman a tournament-leading nine points in the championship. Rychel added a second with 2:53 to go in the period as Russia managed only five shots in the frame.

Canada will return to Brno to face the United States in a rematch of Tuesday’s preliminary round final. In their first meeting, the teams were tied going into the third period when the U.S. scored two quick goals to beat Canada 5-3 and win the top seed.

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