CANADA RALLIES TO TOP CZECHS AND CLINCH BERTH IN SEMIS

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    MONTREAL, Que. – Julien Gauthier (Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que./Val-d’Or, QMJHL) scored twice in the third period to help Canada’s National Junior Team to a 5-3 quarter-final win over the Czech Republic on Monday at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.

    The win punches Canada’s ticket to the semifinals after a one-year absence; the Canadians will face Sweden in the final four on Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT) at the Bell Centre.

    Mitchell Stephens (Peterborough, Ont./Saginaw, OHL) added a goal and two assists and Thomas Chabot (Sainte-Marie-de-Beauce, Que./Saint John, QMJHL) had one of each in the victory, while Blake Speers (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont./Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) was the other goal scorer.

    Connor Ingram (Imperial, Sask./Kamloops, WHL) made 16 saves to record the win in the Canadian goal.

    Canada outshot the Czechs 11-4 in the first period, but the Europeans had the lone goal after a weird bounce off the referee landed on the stick of David Kase for the 1-0 marker.

    The Canadians tied the game less than four minutes into the second period when Mathieu Joseph (Chambly, Que./Saint John, QMJHL) intercepted a clearing attempt and fed the puck to Stephens, who found birthday boy Speers in front for a redirection through Czech goaltender Jakub Skarek.

    Stephens gave Canada its first lead at 7:27, scoring right off a won face-off by Anthony Cirelli (Woodbridge, Ont./Oshawa, OHL), only for Tomas Soustal to get the Czechs even less than 90 seconds later, pulling the puck around a sliding Noah Juulsen (Abbotsford, B.C./Everett, WHL) before beating Ingram.

    Chabot restored the Canadian advantage for good at 13:32, as he faked a shot, toe-dragged around a Czech player and fired a bullet through a screen and past Skarek to the stick side.

    Gauthier led the way for the red-and-white in the final frame, scoring twice in 3:19, sandwiched around a Simon Stransky goal that temporarily made it a one-goal game again.

    He roofed a centering pass from Nicolas Roy (Amos, Que./Chicoutimi, QMJHL) for his first goal, and buried the rebound of a Kale Clague (Lloydminster, Alta./Brandon, WHL) for his second to round out the scoring.

    The Canadians held a one-sided 41-19 advantage in shots on goal.

    Tickets are still available HERE for the Wednesday semifinal.