DAVOS, Switzerland – Marc-Antoine Pouliot (Quebec City, Que./EHC Biel-Bienne, NLA) scored a goal and set up two others, leading Canada’s National Men’s Team back to the championship game at the Spengler Cup with a 3-2 semifinal win over HC Dinamo Minsk on Friday.
Canada will defend its 2015 title against the winner of the HC Davos-HC Lugano semifinal in the final on Saturday (6 a.m. ET/3 a.m. PT, TSN1/4).
It will be the 21st championship game appearance for the Canadians, who are in search of their 14th title.
Chris DiDomenico (Woodbridge, Ont./SCL Tigers, NLA) and Chay Genoway (Morden, Man./Jokerit Helsinki, KHL) had the other goals for Canada, which avenged a 7-4 loss to Minsk in the tournament opener for both on Monday.
The Canadians dominated the first period, outshooting Minsk 21-5, thanks in large part to five power-play opportunities in the opening 20 minutes.
Pouliot got the scoring started with his first goal of the tournament at 7:07, taking a no-look, behind-the-back pass from Jacob Micflikier (Winnipeg, Man./EHC Biel-Bienne, NLA) and roofing a shot over the shoulder of Minsk goaltender Ben Scrivens.
DiDomenico doubled the lead on the power play seven minutes later; he gathered in the rebound of a Maxim Noreau (Montreal, Que./SC Bern, NLA) shot and tried to feed the puck back in front of the net, only for it to hit a Minsk defender and elude Scrivens.
The KHL side enjoyed a long five-on-three to start the second period, and got one goal back when Andrei Stepanov used a Canadian as a screen before rifling a wrist shot over the blocker of netminder Zach Fucale (Rosemère, Que,/Brampton, ECHL), who finished with 21 saves.
Both teams traded chances through the second period and early in the third, before the Canadians finally added a little bit of insurance midway through the final frame.
Pouliot kept the puck on a two-on-one before a loose puck squirted to Genoway, who hammered a slap shot through two Minsk skaters and Scrivens for the 3-1 goal at 12:29.
That would end up as the game-winner after Matt Ellison – who won the Spengler Cup with Canada last year – converted on a five-on-three for Minsk to make it a one-goal game again with 4:44 remaining.
The Belarus-based team swarmed the Canadian net with Scrivens on the bench for an extra attacker in the dying minutes, and Rob Klinkhammer hit the post behind Fucale with less than 10 seconds left, but Canada held on to advance.
Luke Richardson, head coach, Canada’s National Men’s Team:
“We are so proud of our players for how they have represented our country in this tournament. Their willingness to accept roles and sacrifice for the team has been exceptional. That was our most complete game of the tournament to-date. We are exactly where we want to be [in] playing for the championship.”
“Overall, it was a very tight game. We had to battle for 60 minutes, and our commitment to the team sacrificing bodies was the difference. IT was a fun game to be part of, and I’m sure entertaining for everyone watching the game. Every player has committed to one goal – winning the championship. As the tournament goes on, we are gaining confidence as a team. If we keep the same mindset, I like our chances tomorrow.”
Canada has appeared in 11 of the last 15 championship games at the Spengler Cup, winning the tournament in 2002, 2003, 2007, 2012 and 2015. Overall, Canada’s National Men’s Team has won the Spengler Cup 13 times (1984, 1986, 1987, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2012, 2015) since first taking part in 1984.