UFA, Russia — Canada will play for the bronze medal at the world junior hockey championship for a second year in a row.
The Canadians fell 5-1 to the United States in Thursday’s semifinal.
The Americans will meet the winner of the Sweden-Russia semifinal for gold Saturday. Canada will face the loser for bronze.
“We came a long way and we still have an opportunity to get a medal,” head coach Steve Spott said. “It’s not the colour we want, but we owe it to Canadian fans to come home with a medal.”
Canada won bronze last year when the tournament was held in Calgary and Edmonton.
Canada had most of the country’s best 19-year-old players available to it this year because of the NHL lockout, with the exception of a defenceman and a forward lost to injury before the tournament.
Canada dominated the tournaments of 1995 and 2005 en route to gold when the NHL locked out their players those seasons. There were high expectations of this team that included Edmonton Oiler forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Spott said he chose his 23-player team with speed in mind, but the United States made Canada look like they were standing still for two periods Thursday.
“The start was the difference in the hockey game,” Spott said following the game. “We simply didn’t have the energy or the desperation that the Americans had early.”
U.S. captain Jake McCabe and John Gaudreau each scored a pair of goals and Jim Vesey also scored for the Americans.
Trailing 4-0 after 40 minutes, Ty Rattie scored a short-handed goal for Canada early in the third, but Gaudreau scored his second of the game at 15:41.
Canada had beaten the U.S. 2-1 in a Pool B game on Sunday with just 11 forwards because of suspensions. A full complement of 13 should have produced more scoring chances even-strength, but didn’t.
U.S. goaltender John Gibson, who plays for Spott on the Ontario Hockey League’s Kitchener Rangers, made 26 saves for the win. Gibson stopped an all-alone Ryan Strome in the second period.
We simply didn’t have the energy or the desperation that the Americans had early. - Steve Spott, Team Canada coach
Canadian starter Malcolm Subban was replaced by Jordan Binnington in the second period after the U.S. had scored four goals on 16 shots. Binnington, playing in his first game since Dec. 22, made 25 saves in relief.
“It had nothing to do with Malcolm at all. We left him out to dry and the goals they scored were quality goals,” Spott said. “It was more than anything trying to give our team a little bit of a shot of adrenaline.”
Canada finished first in Pool B at 4-0 and earned the bye to the semifinal.
The U.S. finished third in their pool at 2-2 and defeated the Czech Republic 7-0 on Wednesday to advance to the semifinal.