Canada's gold-medal hopes alive
Considered Canada's top two-way player, Jonathan Toews threw his best offensive effort at the United States on Wednesday to give his team another chance at a gold medal.
Toews scored on all three of his shootout attempts to lift Canada to a 2-1 semifinal win at the world junior hockey championship in Leksand, Sweden.
"It was certainly a roller-coaster ride, that shootout," said Canada's head coach, Craig Hartsburg. "I've never been through anything like that, ever."
Canada, which doubled the Americans 6-3 in the preliminary round, will shoot for a third consecutive gold medal on Friday against Russia (1:30 p.m. ET).
The Russians scored three unanswered goals en route to a 4-2 victory over Sweden in Wednesday's other semifinal. Sweden will battle the U.S. in Friday's bronze-medal game (10 a.m. ET).
Toews, who also scored on a penalty shot against theAmericans in the preliminary round,ended a thrilling shootout in Round 7 by beating goaltender Jeff Frazee.
"I'll be honest, I'm not that great of a shootout player, especially with my club team," said Toews. "We have a shootout competition every week at UND [University of North Dakota] and I rarely win that thing."
Toews then watched netminder Carey Price thwart U.S. forward Peter Mueller to end the shootout 5-4 and cement Canada's sixth straight appearance in the gold-medal game.
Bryan Little and Andrew Cogliano also scored in extra shots.
"He's so calm and laid-back in the net," Cogliano said of Price, who kicked aside 34 of 35 shots in regulation and overtime. "He does a great job of staying big and making the easy save."
Price, who entered the game with a sparkling .936 save percentage, was a huge reasonWednesday's game reached ashootout.
The Montreal Canadiens prospect made 12 saves in the 10-minute, sudden-death OT, including four huge stops with the U.S. enjoying a 4-on-3 power play.
Frazee, who finished with 26 saves,was equally strong. With a minute left in the extra period, he made a brilliant left-toe save off Canadian forward Tom Pyatt.
Canada's hopes of playing for gold were in jeopardy until defenceman Luc Bourdon tied the game 1-1 at 12:09 of the third period on his team's eighth power-play chance of the game.
With Blake Geoffrion in the penalty box, Bourdon took a Kris Russell pass and one-timed a shot from inside the blue-line past Frazee, who was partially screened by Canadian forward Sam Gagner.
BeforeBourdon's second goal of the tournament, Canada struggled mightily to get decent scoring chances as the Americans did an effective job blocking shots and pressuring the puck.
If there was a concern for Canadian coach Craig Hartsburg entering the semifinals it was a lack of finish by those up front, considering Canada's forwards had accounted for only nine of the team's 14 goals in the preliminary round.
The Americans, meanwhile, were coming off a 6-3win overFinland in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.
Playing its fourth game in five days, the U.S. snapped a scoreless tie at 5:04 of the second period after Gagner went off for hooking.
Price had little chance on the play when Taylor Chorney's point shot deflected off the skate of Canadian defenceman Marc Staal and into the net, marking the first time Canada had trailed in the tourney.
With files from the Canadian Press