HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP)Adam Fantilli scored the go-ahead goal in the second period, Thomas Milic made 43 saves and Canada overcame an early deficit to beat the United States 6-2 on Wednesday night to advance to the world junior hockey championship game.
Seeking its 20th title, Canada will face the Czech Republic on Thursday night. The Czechs, 5-2 winners over Canada in their tournament opener, rallied to beat Sweden 2-1 in overtime in the first semifinal.
”It’s incredible,” Milic said. ”It’s something we’ve been working toward for a long time now and it’s something you dream of doing as a kid. So super-excited. I love those high-pressure situations. And I think as we’ve progressed through the tournament, we’ve just been getting better and better.”
Milic is the only player on Canada’s roster passed over in the NHL draft.
”It’s always in the back of my mind,” the Seattle Thunderbirds goalie said. ”But it’s not really something I think about too much now. It’s just winning.”
Joshua Roy had two goals, the second into the empty net, and two assists for Canada. Fantilli, Connor Bedard and Logan Stankoven each had a goal and an assist, and Brandt Clarke also scored.
”I think that was an amazing game to beat the USA,” Roy said. ”That was the team we wanted to beat, and we were down 2-0. And then we came back, and the crowd was amazing. So just an amazing moment for us. We didn’t panic.”
Logan Cooley and Kenny Connors scored in the first period as the Americans raced to the 2-0 lead. Trey Augustine stopped 31 shots for the U.S.
”Got away from our identity,” U.S. coach Rand Pecknold of Quinnipiac said. ”Their goalie was the best player on the ice. He was excellent. That’s part of hockey.”
The Americans will face Sweden in the third-place game.
”We had some really good chances throughout the game,” U.S. captain Luke Hughes said. ”We couldn’t bury ours, and they buried theirs. We lost, and that sucks. But you know, we’ve got a chance to win a medal tomorrow. And that’s important. So we’ve got to wrap our heads around that.”
In the first semifinal, David Jiricek tied it with 39 seconds left in regulation and Jiri Kulich scored late in overtime for to send the Czechs to their first final since back-to-back titles in 2000 and 2001.
Buffalo first-rounder Kulich averted a shootout, cutting from the right side to the slot and lifting the puck over goalie Carl Lindbom’s right shoulder with 50 seconds left in the 10-minute extra period.
In regulation with goalie Tomas Suchanek off for an extra attacker, Jiricek ripped a one-timer past Lindbom from the left point.
Suchanek made 21 saves, allowing only Ludvig Jansson’s second-period goal. Lindbom stopped 29 shots.
Also Wednesday, Latvia beat Austria 4-2 to sweep the best-of-three relegation series.