Drake Batherson scored twice as Canada earned an 8-2 quarter-final win over Switzerland on Tuesday at the world junior hockey championship.
Canada will face the Czech Republic in semifinal action Thursday. The Czechs advanced with a 4-3 quarter-final shootout win over Finland.
The Canadians beat the Czech Republic 9-0 on Dec. 20 in a pre-tournament exhibition game in London, Ont. But the Czechs didn’t put out their full roster and had just arrived in North America.
Brett Howden added a goal and two assists for Canada, which won Group A with three wins and a shootout loss. Cale Makar, Jordan Kyrou, Conor Timmins, Dillon Dube and Maxime Comtois also scored.
Canadian goalie Carter Hart stopped 12 shots for the win.
Dario Rohrbach and Axel Simic replied for Switzerland, which finished fourth in Group B. Philip Wuthrich stopped 21-of-26 shots in 27:24 of work before being replaced by Matteo Ritz. He turned aside 31-of-34 shots.
Snowstorm keeps fans away
Defenceman Victor Mete didn’t dress for the game. Mete also sat out practice Monday and head coach Dominique Ducharme said he suffered an undisclosed injury in Canada’s 4-3 shootout loss to the United States on Friday. He saw limited action against Denmark on Saturday.
Ticket sales have been an issue throughout the tournament, with attendance for all of Canada’s games at KeyBank Center well below capacity. A massive snowstorm insured that Tuesday’s game was no different, with whole sections in the upper bowl empty and some sections in the lower bowl less than 90 per cent full.
It didn’t take long for Canada to open the scoring. Comtois had a breakaway and pulled off to the right wing, feeding a streaking Howden who put it past Wuthrich just 48 seconds into the game.
Makar added to that lead eight minutes later, snapping a shot into the net from the face-off circle. Batherson followed that up nearly four minutes later, knocking in a rebound after Boris Katchouk took several whacks at the puck on the crease.
Hart, who has a superstition about being the last player to leave the ice, saw that Ritz — still Switzerland’s backup at this point in the game — wasn’t going anywhere during the first intermission. So the Canadian goaltender hid in the tunnel, then sprinted back out to the delight of the crowd after Ritz had gone to the Swiss locker-room.
Battherson scored his second of the night 6:12 into the second, firing a wrist shot over Wuthrich’s glove for a 4-0 lead. Moments after that goal was announced, Kyou corralled a pass from Sam Steel near the face-off circle and fired it into the net. Ritz came into the game for Switzerland after that.
Hart’s shutout streak ends
Rohrbach broke Hart’s shutout 8:46 into the second to make it 5-1. Hart hadn’t been scored on — excluding the shootout portion of a 4-3 loss to the United States — in 106 minutes three seconds.
Canada replied 3:33 later, with Timmins skating down the slot and redirecting a pass from Tyler Steenbergen into the net.
The Canadians seemed content to sit on that lead in the third, relying heavily on the dump and chase and clogging up the neutral zone. But Simic had a short-handed goal, carrying a Canadian turnover and snapping a shot past Hart to make it 6-2.
That seemed to invigorate Canada, with Dube answering on the same power play to re-establish the five-goal lead. Comtois then added Canada’s eighth of the night with less than a minute left to go in the third.
Czechs beat Finland in shootout
Kristian Reichel and Martin Necas scored shootout goals and the Czech Republic defeated Finland 4-3 in a world junior quarter-final on Tuesday.
Filip Zadina scored twice in regulation, including the tying goal with 2:26 remaining in the third period. Reichel scored the other goal. Josef Korenar made 51 saves.
Aapeli Rasanen, Olli Juolevi and Kristian Vesalainen had goals for Finland. Vesalainen also had the only Finnish goal in the shootout. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 26 saves.
The Czechs will play the winner of Tuesday’s quarterfinal between Canada and Switzerland.
The defending champion United States plays Russia in a quarterfinal on Tuesday night.