USA vs Canada. Do I need to say anything else? The two rivals will add to their long history on Saturday when they match up in the IIHF World Championships Semifinals. The two teams entered the knockout stage in opposite positions. USA Hockey dropped their opening preliminary game and then won 6 straight to win their group and entered the knockout stage as the top seed. Team Canada on the other hand lost their first 3 games and then went 3-0-1 in their final 4 games to sneak into the knockout round as the last seed. The two squared off in the prelims where Team USA dominated most of the game beating the Canadians 5-1. Here are the highlights from the first game.
Canada Players to Watch
Darcy got lit up for 5 goals in the first matchup, but he has played much better as the last few games. He was excellent in their Quarterfinals upset of Russia, stopping 24 of the 25 shots he faced leading Canada to a 2-1 win. Kuemper has been the starting goalie for the Arizona Coyotes the past three seasons.
The Canadian captain scored a huge goal in the Quarterfinals to tie the game in the 3rd period. Henrique is the veteran of the team, having played over 700 NHL games. He has been Canada’s most consistent player and has 5 goals and 10 points in their 8 games.
The 18 year old University of Michigan star will most likely be the first name called at this years NHL Entry Draft. Power has played extremely well for Canada and was the player of the game in their Quarterfinals win. He is averaging over 18 minutes of ice time and his 3 points lead all Canadian defenseman. Unfortunately his Michigan teammate and co-star Matty Beniers got hurt in Team USA’s Quarterfinal and his status for the game is unknown.
USA Hockey Players to Watch
Cal Petersen/Jake Oettinger
Coach Jack Capuano has been rotating his goalie and has not announced who the starter will be. I asked him after the Quarterfinals if he knew who would be in net and he wasn’t ready to commit.
After today’s Quarterfinals win I talked with @usahockey coach Jack Capuano. They have a big matchup with @HockeyCanada in the Semifinals coming up #IIHFWorlds #IIHFWorlds2021 #TeamUSA #MensWorlds #nhl pic.twitter.com/EpJseAQvvX— Kyle Hall (@KHallNY) June 3, 2021
The US goaltending duo has combined for a 95.26 save percentage to lead the tournament. They have only given up 9 goals in the 8 games they have played. Based off the Quarterfinals performance of Cal Petersen I would be surprised if it isn’t him in net.
Garland has been on fire all tournament. His 5 goals and 10 points lead Team USA in both categories. In the first match up against Canada he had two assists. His line of Jason Robertson and Trevor Moore have lead the way offensively for the Americans. The line combined for 6 points in the first meeting and if Team USA hopes to move on to the Gold Medal game they will need this line to produce.
The 21 year old New York Rangers defenseman has been fantastic on the back end for Team USA. Jones leads the team in ice time averaging just under 20 minutes a game. He is also tied for the team lead with a +/- rating of +8. In the US Quarterfinals win he had an assist and a +4 rating.
Early Morning Fun
Puck drop will be 7am eastern time on Saturday. This is the match up all of North America was rooting for. It doesn’t get better than USA vs Canada. I think the Canadian Head Coach Gerald Gallant summed it up perfect when I asked him about the match up, “It’s going to be a great game.”
Here is what @HockeyCanada coach Gerald Gallant answer to me asking him about their upcoming semifinals match up with @usahockey. Going to be a great game #IIHFWorlds #IIHFWorlds2021 #MensWorlds #nhl #HockeyTwitter #Canada #teamusa @BellyUpSports pic.twitter.com/ImH4de9IdU— Kyle Hall (@KHallNY) June 4, 2021
Be sure to bookmark our hockey page for hockey coverage and follow Belly Up Hockey on Twitter: @BellyUpHockey. Follow me on Twitter for more takes on the New York Rangers and USA Hockey: @KHallNY. You can also listen to my NY Rangers podcast The Broadway Hat Podcast on Apple Podcast and Spotify for Rangers news and interviews with past and current players.