All games move to Montréal now, so you can expect the national English press to suddenly notice empty seats.
Martins Dzierkals and Latvia lost both their relegation games to Finland, as expected, so they move back to Division I next year, and he goes back to junior hockey a few days earlier than he wanted.
First up is Russia at USA at 3 pm.
Russia looked like they were in tough in the round robin, needing to win their last game just to keep from coming fourth, but fortune favoured them with Denmark in the quarterfinals, and they breezed through 4-0. Denmark will finish this tournament with their best ever result, however.
The USA got a bit of a scare from a tough Swiss team that gave them a real game for 60 minutes. The USA held on to win it 3-2, and some might say a competitive game is a better setup to the semifinals than a demonstration of offensive might like the Russians put on.
Toronto’s only goalie prospect, Joseph Woll did not get the start in the USA game and is unlikely to in the semifinal either, even though he has been excellent all tournament and a pleasure to watch. He has the highest save percentage of any goalie who has appeared in more than one game.
Toronto’s other American, Jeremy Bracco, had a goal and an assist in the game playing on a line with the extremely effective and talented Jordan Greenway.
The marquee match of the day, perhaps of the entire tournament, is Canada at Sweden at 7:30 pm.
Sweden seemed to be in total dominating control in their quarterfinal against Slovakia, sending them spinning in circles, but they let down their standard of play in the second and early part of the third period and Slovakia scored three times in a short stretch of minutes.
The Swedes, got it together and made the final score 8-3, however, leaving no doubt about their abilities. They got points from all over their lineup, and in fact, their 13th forward was one of the best players on the ice in the quarterfinal game. They are a very complete team.
Alexander Nylander is leading the tournament in scoring again with five goals and six assists. Linemate Joel Eriksson Ek is sixth with five goals and two assists. And their other winger for most of the time, Carl Grundström, who started on a lower-minute unit, is 14th with two goals and four assists.
Grundström plays the net-front, dig it out of the corners game, and here he is (16) as Lias Andersson (15) scores a goal, ready to make sure it goes in.
7-3 for Sweden. Slovakia is out of gas. pic.twitter.com/9sC93JxS8n— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) January 2, 2017
Here Grundström showed off his shot on a rocket just after a faceoff. He doesn’t get to do this much in the SHL.
Canada brings a typical Canadian team to face Sweden: weak in goal, strong up front, one or two hot properties on the blueline, all playing a very high-level game. Canada got their own mild scare in the quarterfinal against the Czechs, when the score got close for a moment, but they never looked like they weren’t controlling the game. They won it 5-3 in a very machine like, outscore the goaltending way.
The winners today are guaranteed at least the silver medal, the losers play off for bronze before the gold medal game tomorrow.