When the World Championship began, there were six Canucks on national team rosters. Now, just one remains: Chris Tanev. Okay, technically two, since Ben Hutton is still on Team Canada. It’s just that he’s been a healthy scratch the last few games and has next to no chance of playing in the gold medal game.
Here’s how the two semifinal games went down:
Finland 3 - 1 Russia
The host Russians won’t be going to the gold medal game, despite the additions of Alex Ovechkin, Dmitri Orlov, and Evgeny Kuznetsov mid-tournament. Instead, Finland remained undefeated and will go for their third gold medal of the year after winning at the World Junior Championship and U-18 Championship.
Russia came out strong in the first period, out-shooting the Finns 10-4 (good buddy). Former Canuck Sergei Shirokov opened the scoring, as he snuck into the slot unnoticed and scored on his own rebound.
That was the only goal they could score, however, and as Sebastian Aho scored two power play goals and Patrik Laine set up Jussi Jokinen for an even-strength goal that stood up as the gamewinner.
Russia out-shot Finland 13-2 in the third period, forcing Finland into a defensive shell, but couldn’t get the puck past Mikko Koskanen, with Pavel Datsyuk fanning on one golden opportunity at the back door.
They will face the winner of the other semifinal between Canada and the USA. If you read the headline of this post or glanced below this sentence, you already know who that will be.
Canada 4 - 3 USA
There were plenty of nervous moments, but Canada eventually eked out a one-goal win, scoring the only goal in the third period and hanging on despite getting out-shot 11-4 in the final frame.
Canada got off to a great start, getting two goals from a couple players who are offensive in more ways than one, Brendan Gallagher and Brad Marchand. After Keith Kinkaid, who got the nod again for the US after giving up just one goal in the quarterfinals, gave up a bad rebound on a bad-angle shot, Gallagher dove out to chip the puck in.
Then Marchand scored one of the best goals of the tournament, working a lovely give-and-go with Cody Ceci, then finishing off the play with his skates below the goal line.
Marchand goal pic.twitter.com/9v55XgzhWV— Stephanie (@myregularface) May 21, 2016
Tanev nearly had a goal in the first as well, finding plenty of space in the right faceoff circle, but Kinkaid challenged outside of his crease and gave Tanev nothing to shoot at.
That was Tanev’s only shot in the game, but he once again had a great game defensively, apart from one giveaway in the third period that led to a great scoring chance for the US. Admittedly, that was a terrible time for a giveaway, but Cam Talbot, who played well despite the three goals against, bailed him out.
Tanev arguably should have played more: he was on the ice for just 3:44 in the second period, lowest among Canadian defencemen. Coincidentally, Canada gave up all three US goals in the second period, all while Tanev was on the bench.
Canada responded before the end of the period, with Derrick Brassard pouncing on a loose puck at the side of the net on the power play, scoring his fifth goal of the tournament. Brassard, surprisingly, leads Canada in scoring with 11 points in 9 games.
Ryan Ellis put a bullet past Kinkaid on the short side for the gamewinner just 1:34 into the third period. That goal wouldn’t have happened if the other two Canucks on Canada and the US’s rosters were in the lineup. One, because Thatcher Demko would have made the save and two, because if Ben Hutton was in the lineup, that would mean Ellis wouldn’t have joined Team Canada.
But the goal did happen and Canada buckled down to defend the one-goal lead. Tanev played a big role, with his best moment of the game coming after he broke his stick at one end and managed to intercept a pass and block a shot in his own end of the ice without a stick.
Then Brad Marchand gave Tanev his stick, which may have seemed like a nice thing to, but really he was trying to get Tanev to embarrass himself playing with a wrong-handed, too-short stick. That rat.
In the end, Canada held on, with Tanev on the ice in the final minute. Now they have a rematch in the gold medal game with Finland, who beat them 4-0 in the preliminary round.