World Junior Hockey Championship 2020 Results: Semifinal Scores and Reaction

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2020

Sweden's Rasmus Sandin, right, skates past as Russia's Ivan Morozov, left, celebrates with Russia's Vasili Podkolzin, center, after scoring his sides winning goal during the U20 Ice Hockey Worlds semifinal match between Sweden and Russia in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Petr David Josek/Associated Press

The final of the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championship is set with Russia and Canada set to square off Sunday. 

Russia earned a trip to the title game by knocking off a Sweden team that had been the most dominant group in the tournament with a plus-17 goal differential through its first five games, including a 5-0 victory over the Czech Republic. 

Canada has taken Sweden's spot as the most impressive team in the tournament since the start of the playoff round.

The Canadians followed up their win in Group B with a dominating 6-1 victory over Slovakia in the quarterfinal. They wasted no time taking control of their semifinal against Finland with four first-period goals in a 5-0 blowout


2020 World Junior Hockey Championships: Semifinals

Russia def. Sweden, 5-4 (OT)

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Canada def. Finland, 5-0


2020 World Junior Hockey Championship: Final (Sunday, Jan. 5)

Bronze-Medal Game: Sweden vs. Finland (9 a.m. ET)

Gold-Medal Game: Russia vs. Canada (1 p.m. ET)


Russia 5, Sweden 4 (OT)

Sweden's run of dominance in the tournament came to an end thanks to Ivan Morozov's overtime goal that gave Russia a 5-4 victory. 

Coming into the semifinal, Sweden allowed a total of eight goals in five games. Its last three opponents combined to score four times. Russia almost passed that mark in the first period with three goals against Hugo Alnefelt.

Alnefelt and Sweden would turn things around after a rough start. The Swedish offense scored three unanswered goals to take a 4-3 lead early in the third period. 

Russia had a chance to go up before Sweden took the lead when Kirill Marchenko seemed like he had a wide-open net, but Alnefelt was able to get his stick out just in time to keep the puck from crossing the line.

The Russians ultimately got the last laugh, first when Yegor Sokolov evened the score at four with just over 11 minutes remaining in regulation. 

It took less than four minutes into overtime before Russia struck for the final time on Morozov's game-winner.

The victory moves Russia into the championship game for the first time since 2016 when it lost to Finland. The country is seeking its first World Junior Hockey Championship in nine years.


Canada 5, Finland 0

Unlike the drama-filled first semifinal, Canada dominated Finland from the jump en route to its third trip to the championship game in four years. 

Connor McMichael got things started one minute, 48 seconds into the first period to give the Canadians a 1-0 advantage. Alexis LaFreniere and Jamie Drysdale scored 50 seconds apart for a 3-0 lead less than four minutes into the game. 

Drysdale saw nearly as much time on the ice through the first two periods today as he had in any single game this tournament because of an illness that prevented Bowen Byram from playing:

Finland goaltender Justus Annunen entered the semifinal riding a hot streak. The Colorado Avalanche prospect led all goalies in the tournament with a 93.6 save percentage and is second in 1.97 goals-against average with 125 shots faced. 

Canada didn't have a significant statistical edge in shot attempts, with just seven more than Finland (39-32). But the defense and goaltender Joel Hofer kept this game well in hand for the Canadians. 

Since losing to Russia in its second game in Group B, Canada has reeled off four consecutive victories and is outscoring opponents 22-4. 

Russia has already proved it knows how to handle Canada in this tournament. That first meeting was a 6-0 blowout in which the Russians scored three goals in the first period to put Canada back on its heels. 

The Canadians have been able to strike quickly and often in the playoff round. If they can do that one more time, they will be taking home their 18th gold medal in the 44-year history of the World Junior Championships.