Canada and Germany will play for gold at the 2023 World Hockey Championship on Sunday after narrow semifinal wins on Saturday.
Canada qualified for the title match for the seventh time in the past eight years. They last won in 2021 against Finland, but lost in 2019 and 2022, also against Finland.
Germany, meanwhile, never won gold and never qualified for the tournament’s championship game. They’ve won silver before, but that was in 1930 when they didn’t have a playoff format. They trailed 2-0 early against the United States, who entered the game with a perfect 8-0 record.
The puck drop is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 28.
The first period was pretty tight between Canada and Latvia, with Canada outshooting their opponents 9-7. But the Latvians scored first, with Boston Bruins prospect Dans Locmelis beating Samuel Montembeault to give Latvia a surprising 1-0 advantage early.
That score lasted until 35:32, when Peyton Krebs sent a bouncing puck to Samuel Blais, who converted to make it 1-1. But just over a minute later, Rudolfs Balcers forced a turnover and his shot went under Montembeault’s left arm to restore the one-goal advantage.
The Canadians needed a quick goal in the third to regain momentum, and it worked. At 40:45, Jack Quinn took Lawson Crouse’s pass behind the goal line and fired the puck out of Arturs Silovs’ mask and inside, getting the puck in somehow. Then, as Canada took full control of the momentum, Adam Fantilli finally scored his first goal of the tournament on a fine play to make it 3-2, giving Canada their only lead. It lasted until the very end, ending Latvia’s dream run to the league game.
The Americans got off to a great start in the late afternoon game, scoring twice before the four-minute mark. Alex Tuch and Rocco Grimaldi collected a pair of points each on their respective goals to breathe life into their team.
But a pair of goals in the latter half of the first period changed everything. First, Frederik Tiffels deflected Daniel Fischbuch’s shot past Casey DeSmith to make it 2-1 at 12:22. Less than four minutes later, Maksymilian Szuber’s shot went just under the crossbar and into DeSmith’s right arm to make it 2-2.
That lead lasted until 8:47 into the second. Michael Eyssimont was denied twice by German goalkeeper Mathias Niederberger, but Eyssimont landed an effective third shot to make it 3-2. It looked like the score was going to stand, but Marcel Noebels scored with just over a minute left in regulation time to force extra time.
In the extra frame, which mirrored the two teams’ previous encounter in this tournament this year, Tiffels scored late to win the match, giving Germany their first lead of the game – and at the most important moment.
Latvia and the United States will play for bronze earlier in the day, with a puck drop scheduled for 8:20 a.m. ET. Latvia have never played for a medal in their history, while Germany will be chasing their fourth after winning bronze in 1934.
Canada avoid surprise in win over Latvia
- In Locmelis (BOS) scored Latvia’s first big goal against Sweden and he did the same today. His relentlessness, despite limited minutes in most games, has rewarded him greatly over the past two days. At 19, he is quite young, but it shows in his energy and attacking nature which has allowed him to flourish.
- It’s rare for goaltenders to earn Most Valuable Player honors, but Artus Silovs (VAN) did everything to get into the conversation. He allowed a goal in the second period but still made 15 saves in the second alone to keep the Latvians in the game. Canucks fans must be absolutely thrilled with its quality.
- Sammy Blais (STL) was eye-catching, scoring in the quarter-finals and then leveling the game to give Canada some life on Saturday. It was a spark plug on a third line which includes Jake Neighbors (STL) And Peyton Krebs (BUF), with Krebs setting up Blais for the 1-1 goal. It was a bouncing puck, but that didn’t bother Blais.
- After being a shooting generation machine but with nothing to show for it, Adam Fantilli eventually scored his first goal of the tournament. And it was a big shot, hitting a big deke to score the third goal to make it 3-2. If you want to score your first, as much as it means something.
- Samuel Montembault (MTL) continues to build his case for tournament top goalie honours. He made 20 saves, which wasn’t a ton, but he had to make a few tough ones and bounced back after every goal against.
Germany beat USA to advance to first final
- Rocco Grimaldi, the only United States player not affiliated with the NHL, tied Czech Dominik Kubalik for the lead after setting up Alex Tuch’s opener and then scoring on a slapper. The extra ice suited Grimaldi pretty well, using it to his advantage to get creative and make smart plays. He’s up for MVP, which probably very few expected.
- Grimaldi would have taken first place had it not been for Mathias Niederberg. The German goaltender made some great saves in the second period, including one where he put his skate on the puck at the last possible second to prevent it from crossing the line. Given the competition, Niederberger must have been fantastic. And he was.
- Alex Tuch (BUF) had a few quiet games but scored the opener and then set up Grimaldi for his goal. Talk about a good 3:56 of action for the Sabers forward, continuing a trend that has seen current Buffalo players stand out.
- Speaking of Buffalo, JJ Peterka (BUF). He helped set up the Germans’ 2-2 goal, bringing the puck to Nico Sturm (SJS) Before Maksymilian Szuber marked at 4:03 p.m. Peterka had a few other great paces and was one of the fastest skaters on the ice. Just another great effort from Peterka.