Sammy Blais celebrates a goal against Latvia at the IIHF World Championship.AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin
AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin

Team Canada to play for gold at IIHF World Championship

Team Canada will play in the gold medal game at the 2023 IIHF World Championship in Finland.

Sammy Blais, Jack Quinn, Adam Fantilli and Scott Laughton scored to give Canada a hard fought 4-2 victory over Latvia on semifinal Saturday at the men’s worlds. Samuel Montembeault earned the win in net.

Team Canada will play Germany in the gold medal game, which is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. ET on Sunday and will be broadcast by TSN. The Germans upset Switzerland in the quarterfinals and then edged the United States 4-3 in overtime in Saturday’s second semifinal.

Jack Quinn and Tyler Myers celebrate a goal against Latvia at the IIHF World Championship.
Canada’s Jack Quinn (22) celebrates his goal with Tyler Myers (57) during their semifinal match against Latvia at the Ice Hockey World Championship in Tampere, Finland, Saturday, May 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Team Canada will look to win gold at the IIHF World Championship for the first time since 2021. Including this year’s tournament, Canada has played in seven of the past eight gold medal games.

Dans Locmelis opened the scoring for Latvia at 8:18 of the first period. After a point shot was knocked down in front of the net, Locmelis eventually beat Montembeault to give the Latvians the early lead.

It was a penalty filled second period. Team Canada was called for too many men just 1:37 in and then Pierre-Olivier Joseph took a slashing penalty just over a minute later. Canada would kill off the lengthy five-on-three and remain down just a goal.

The penalties continued throughout the frame but, at even strength, Blais managed to take a bouncing pass from Peyton Krebs perfectly, firing a quick shot upstairs on Latvian netminder Arturs Silovs at 15:32 to tie things up at 1-1.

Just over a minute later, Latvia took the lead again. Rudolfs Balcers fended off a Canadian defenseman as he skated into the circle, ripping a shot past Montembeault to put the Latvians back in front.

The teams combined for 22 penalty minutes in the second period with shots ending 16-6 in favour of Canada.

Canada tied the game just 45 seconds into the third period. Quinn, behind the goal line, fired a shot that banked off the mask of Silovs and into the top corner, making it a 2-2 game.

Fantilli put Canada in the lead 8:56 into the third. The 18-year-old forward went one-on-one against Ralfs Freibergs, getting around the Latvian defenseman enough to fire a wrist shot past Silovs to make it 3-2 for the Canadians.

MacKenzie Weegar was hit from behind by Oskars Batņa with 2:58 remaining, sending Canada to the man advantage. Michael Carcone had a good chance on the power play to give Canada some insurance but could not beat Silovs.

When the penalty expired, Latvia pulled their netminder for an extra attacker. With 43 seconds remaining, Laughton hit the empty net to make it a 4-2 final.

Team Canada advanced to the semifinals of this year’s tournament following a 4-1 win over Finland in Thursday’s quarterfinals. The team finished second in Group B in preliminary round play, winning five of their seven games. Canada fell 3-2 in a shootout to Norway and 3-2 in regulation to Switzerland.

Following Saturday’s win, Montembeault, Weegar and Lawson Crouse were named Canada’s top three players at the tournament.