Troy Stecher (Richmond, B.C./Detroit, NHL) set up Andrew Mangiapane (Bolton, Ont./Calgary, NHL) for a gorgeous overtime winner, sending Canada to the semifinals at the 2021 IIHF World Championship thanks to a dramatic 2-1 win over ROC in their Thursday quarterfinal.
The win sets up an all-North American match-up for the semifinals – Canada will face the United States on Saturday (7 a.m. ET/4 a.m. PT) with a berth in the gold medal game on the line.
The end came just over two minutes into the extra period; Mangiapane carried into the ROC zone and dropped to Stecher, who pulled off a ridiculous between-the-legs move, dangled around another Russian and slipped a backhand feed to Mangiapane, who slammed home the winner.
“I pulled off a move like that in practice yesterday and [assistant general manager] Shane Doan kind of gave me a hard time about not doing it in a game,” Stecher said of his assist on the winner. “I think my instincts took over and I was able to find [Mangiapane], and it all just kind of worked out.”
Adam Henrique (Burford, Ont./Anaheim, NHL) also scored and Darcy Kuemper (Saskatoon, Sask./Arizona, NHL) made 24 saves for the Canadians, who came in as underdogs after squeezing into the final playoff spot in Group B.
But they stayed right with the Russians through a fast-paced first period that at one point went more than eight minutes without a whistle.
ROC finally broke through late in the second; Dmitri Orlov took the puck to the net and forced a big save from Kuemper, but Yevgeni Timkin banged in the loose puck at the top of the crease for the 1-0 goal.
Canadian pressure finally paid off when Vladimir Tarasenko was called for high-sticking early in the third period, leading to Henrique’s power-play goal off a set-up from Connor Brown to tie the game.
That was it for offence through 60 minutes, with ROC holding a 24-22 edge in shots through regulation.
But Canada got the one that mattered in overtime, putting it in the final four for the sixth consecutive time at worlds and setting up just the second semifinal ever between Canada and the U.S.; Canada eked out a 4-3 win at the 2016 tournament in Moscow.