Canada forward Drake Batherson (19) celebrates after scoring against Czech Republic goaltender Josef Korenar (30) during second period semifinal IIHF World Junior Championships hockey action in Buffalo, N.Y., on Thursday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canada will face Sweden for IIHF World Junior Championship gold

Canada defeated the Czech Republic 7-2 in the semi-final at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship

A hat trick from Drake Batherson helped lift Canada over the Czech Republic and into the gold medal game against Sweden at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Batherson (New Minas, N.S./Cape Breton, QMJHL) had four points in the 7-2 semi-final win and is now tied for the goal scoring leader of the tournament with six goals in seven games.

“Not getting the invite this summer, I think I saw a few guys last year who had a good start; got an invite to came and ended up making the team so maybe I thought I could be like that and it’s worked out. I just worked on my game all summer, just progressing as a player and getting better every day,” said Batherson about his impact in his first international experience representing Canada.

Canada, which includes B.C. players Dillon Dubé (Cochrane, Alta/Kelowna Rockets, WHL), Cal Foote (Kelowna/Kelowna Rockets, WHL) and former Penticton Vees player Dante Fabbro (Coquitlam/Boston University, HE), heads to the gold medal game for the second straight year. They are one win away from extending their world juniors record to 17 gold medals in 24 tournaments.

Sweden is seeking their 16th gold medal, but first they will have to figure out how to solve Canada’s power play, the best in the tournament with a 56.5 per cent effectiveness rate. Canada has out scored opponents 36-10.

“It’s going to be a different game, it’s a tournament and it’s a different group. I think our guys have learned a lot this year. We went through a lot in the first round and tonight with the way we played the game, trailing 1-0 early, guys didn’t panic and we established our game. All those things we need to take and play our best game (Friday). They (Sweden) have a lot of skill and they’re playing well, there’s a reason why they’re in the final. It will be a great game,” said Canadian head coach Dom Ducharme.

Friday marks 10 years to the day that Matt Halischuk scored in overtime to give Canada a 3-2 win over Sweden and their fourth consecutive gold.

In the other semi-final, the host U.S. were downed by Sweden 4-2. Sweden opened scoring in that game with 6:30 remaining in the first period. They then scored three goals in a two-minute span near the midway mark of the middle frame to give them a 4-0 lead.

“This was a tough night for us but I thought we fought to the very end,” said Bob Motzko, head coach of the 2018 U.S. National Junior Team. “Fortunately, this tournament isn’t over. There’s still a medal at stake and I know our guys are going to be ready to make our country proud.”

The gold medal game takes place at 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 5. The U.S. will face the Czech Republic in the bronze medal final at 1 p.m.

Just Posted

Telephone poles placed in centre of sidewalk angers West Kelowna watchdog

Audience Group calls placement of poles in new Boucherie Road upgrade project ‘idiocy’

Kelowna asking public to help update its Cultural Plan

Second survey this year to posted to gather public input about cultural programs and services

Three candidates drop out of Central Okanagan municipal election

Two running for Peachland/OK West trustee and OK East rural director candidate step aside

West Kelowna water warning downgraded

City lowers boil water notice for Lakeview water system to a water quality advisory

Ancestral remains uncovered at Fintry to be reburied

Remains found along Shorts Creek in Fintry Provincial Park during flood remediation measures

Your weekend weather update

Rain continues to move right across the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen.

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

Low risk associated with case of pneumococcal disease in the South Okanagan

No identified risk to the public from recent case of pneumococcal disease with associated meningitis

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

Most Read