US, Canada set to face off in junior hockey semifinals

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) — The United States and Canada face off Wednesday night in another instalment of their world junior hockey rivalry, with a trip to the title game on the line.

They advanced to the semifinals after polar-opposite quarterfinals Monday, with Canada beating Slovakia 4-3 on overtime and the U.S. routing Germany 11-1.

“Every kid’s dream,” said U.S. forward Rutger McGroarty, a Winnipeg prospect. “Playing in a barn like this against your rival, it’ll be a fun one. It just gets us juiced up to see that atmosphere, see how crazy it’s going to be.”

The Czech Republic will face Sweden in the other semifinal.

Connor Bedard scored his second goal of the game in overtime to lift Canada past Slovakia. Expected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL draft, the 17-year-old Regina Pats star has set multiple records in the tournament.

Bedard holds Canadian records for goals (16) and points (34) in his tournament career and points (21) and assists (13) in a single event. He also has the most points by a player under 18 from any country.

The Americans are led by the high-scoring top line of University of Minnesota teammates Logan Cooley and Jimmy Snuggerud and Boston College’s Cutter Gauthier.

The U.S. beat Canada in the final of the 2021 tournament in the COVID-19 bubble in Edmonton, Alberta, in their last meeting at the world juniors.

Canadian coach Dennis Williams has no plans for a pep talk before this one. If anything, he says “we’ve got to calm them down.”

“All of us dreamed of this as kids,” Canadian winger Brennan Othmann said. “This is the game, this is the moment.”

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