COLOGNE, Germany – Mark Scheifele (Kitchener, Ont./Winnipeg, NHL) and Jeff Skinner (Toronto, Ont./Carolina, NHL) scored the goals, and Canada’s National Men’s Team held off a game Germany to earn a 2-1 quarter-final win Thursday at the 2017 IIHF World Championship.
The Canadians will face Russia in the semifinals on Saturday (9:15 p.m. ET/6:15 p.m. PT). Canada has split its 16 all-time meetings with the Russians; the last came in the 2015 gold medal game, a 6-1 Canadian win.
Playing in front of a decidedly pro-German crowd in Cologne, Canada dominated for long stretches, outshooting the tournament co-hosts 50-20, but German netminder Philipp Grubauer was fantastic, keeping the result in doubt.
With the game scoreless late in the first period, the Canadian power play went to work; the puck made its way around to Ryan O’Reilly (Varna, Ont./Buffalo, NHL), who found Scheifele in the slot for a quick shot that beat Grubauer to the far side.
Canada has been deadly with the man advantage through eight games, scoring 13 goals on 29 chances for a 44.8% success rate. Only the Russians have been better, clicking at 51.9%.
Canada was at its best in the second period, owning the puck and holding a massive 20-1 advantage in shots on goal – the lone German shot came with less than five seconds to go in the frame, from the neutral zone.
But the Canadians could only manage a single goal; after Michael Matheson (Pointe-Claire, Que./Florida, NHL) walked the line and got a wrist shot through to Grubauer, Skinner reached to knock the rebound past the German puck-stopper to double the advantage to 2-0.
Germany picked up the pace in the third, directing 12 shots at Canadian goaltender Calvin Pickard (Winnipeg, Man./Colorado, NHL) – four more it had in the first two periods combined.
Yannic Seidenberg finally solved Pickard with 6:39 to go, making good on a shorthanded breakaway, but that would be as close as the Germans would get.
Canada is into the semifinals for the third year in a row, two wins away from going back-to-back-to-back at worlds for the first time since 1950-52.
“They have a lot of skill. We’re familiar with a lot of their players from the NHL. They’re very crafty and skilled. They’re going to come at us hard, so we’ve got to play like we have in the last three games and we’ll be fine.”
Calvin Pickard on facing the Russians in Saturday’s semifinal
“Germany gave us everything we could handle. We kind of knew this was the type of game this was going to be, and it was imperative that we get the lead. And we did. Skinner’s goal at the end of the second was big for us. I think frustration was starting to mount a little bit on the team, and Skinner’s goal kind of calmed everybody down.
“It was a phenomenal environment; just to be a part of that, I’ll always remember the German fans and the chants. They were very respectful to both teams, and they really cheered for their team. It was just – as I said, I’ll always remember being part of that.”
Jon Cooper, Team Canada’s head coach, reflecting on the game and the atmosphere in the LANXESS arena for the quarter-final
Since 1931, Canada has won the world championship 20 times – not counting the years when Olympic Winter Games champions were also considered world champion. The country has also collected 11 silver medals and six bronze in that timespan.