RIGA, Latvia – Andrew Mangiapane (Bolton, Ont./Calgary, NHL) scored two more goals, including the game-winner early in the third period, to send Canada’s National Men’s Team into the gold medal game at the 2021 IIHF World Championship with a 4-2 semifinal win over the United States on Saturday.
As unlikely as it would have seemed two weeks ago when the Canadians started 0-3, they will face Finland or Germany on Sunday (1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT) with a chance to win their 27th world title.
“We only had two or three practices at the start, but the team really started to come together and got to know each other quickly,” said head coach Gerard Gallant. “After our third game we started to play some good hockey, and we are a better team now than we were at the start of the tournament. We are playing our best games at the right time, and we are really proud to be playing for a gold medal.”
Darcy Kuemper (Saskatoon, Sask./Arizona, NHL) continued his red-hot run between the pipes, making 36 saves, and Brandon Pirri (Toronto, Ont./Chicago, NHL) and Justin Danforth (Oshawa, Ont./Columbus, NHL) provided the rest of the offence for Canada.
Facing a U.S. team that handed them a humbling 5-1 loss on May 23, the Canadians quickly got on the offensive; Pirri jumped all over a Sean Walker (Keswick, Ont./Los Angeles, NHL) rebound just 2:02 after the puck dropped.
The Americans got even before the end of the first period when Colin Blackwell redirected a Christian Wolanin shot through Kuemper.
Mangiapane gave Canada back the lead for good four minutes into the second period, crashing the net off a scramble in front of U.S. goaltender Cal Petersen and shovelling in the 2-1 goal.
He added a second with only 46 ticks gone in the third, taking a neat little flip pass from Connor Brown (Toronto, Ont./Ottawa, NHL) and sneaking in behind the American defence before tucking a forehand around Petersen.
Mangiapane now has seven goals in the six games he has played, tying him for the tournament lead with Great Britain sniper Liam Kirk.
The assist gives Brown 13 points (two goals, 11 assists), putting him two clear of Mangiapane and Slovakia forward Peter Cehlarik atop the scoring race.
Sasha Chmelevski made it interesting when he deposited a rebound past Kuemper less than three minutes later, but that would be it from the U.S., which carried a seven-game win streak into the semifinal.
Danforth iced it with 23 seconds to go after a ferocious forecheck from Nick Paul (Mississauga, Ont./Ottawa, NHL) forced a turnover in the American zone.
Following the game, Mangiapane, Brown and Adam Henrique (Burford, Ont./Anaheim, NHL) were named Canada’s top three players of the tournament, and for good reason – the trio has combined for 34 points in six games since Mangiapane joined the line-up.