2016 IIHF World Championship Report (Semi-Finals)

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Four teams were left on the second last day of the tournament and all four were looking to get a spot in the gold medal game.

There was plenty of motivation on Semi-Final day as the four teams had a lot to prove and to play for with a guaranteed medal on the line.

For the Americans, the motivation was clear as they went in against their long-time hockey rivals to the north.

The first game of the tournament saw plenty of excitement for a new-look American team but the Canadians took an easy win.

The Americans played the rest of their tournament a little inconsistent but seemed to be getting better.

They even took a win against the top-seeded Czechs in a shootout to get them into the semi-finals.

A win for them would have meant the first time since 1960 that they were playing in the gold medal game with a guarantee to get at least their first silver medal since 1956.

Their opponents had some different motivation as they had been there and done that before with the Canadians representing the defending champions in this tournament.

Last year they went undefeated to get the gold, their 25th gold medal in the history of the tournament.

They had a title to defend heading into the semi-finals and to put it bluntly in Canada anything but a gold is a failure.

The expectations from a rabid hockey nation are that they remain the top team in the world and beating the Americans meant another chance to win back-to-back golds.

On the other side, there was the home team in the Russians who started out their tournament with a surprising loss to the Czechs.

The Russians have plenty of pressure, much like the Canadians, as they are always considered one of the best teams in the world.

At home, the home crowd wanted to see a gold at home for the first time since 1986 when Russia was the Soviet Union and took gold in Moscow.

Generally, their opponents would not strike fear into the Russians but Finland is a different team.

The Finns have dominated many of the top tournaments this year winning the U18 and U20 tournaments.

They went undefeated in the World Championship and with a win could enter the gold medal game with the chance to become the first team to win all three tournaments within the same year.

Finnish hockey had plenty riding on this tournament as a gold medal could announce to everyone that they are officially here and ready to compete with the best in the world on a regular basis.

The semi-finals were interesting as there was some doubt that teams could finish off the game where they wanted.hockey-sidebar

Russia got out to an early lead against Finland and in the first period looked like they were on an entirely different level.

A Finnish team that hadn’t allowed more than 17 shots in any game had allowed six within the first half of their semi-finals game.

Luckily Finnish goalie, Mikko Koskinen, was ready for the task keeping the Finns in the game despite the early Russian lead.

Eventually, the Finns got their mojo back and put up three goals in the second period.

That is where the game ended as the Finns began to tighten up and ensured their spot in the gold medal game.

In the other game, the Canadians came out early looking like they may walk past the Americans again.

Then the Americans mounted a comeback scoring three goals in the second period and going ahead 3-2.

The Canadians were on the ropes but they were far from gone as they took the win with two more unanswered goals to get back to the gold medal game.

For Russia and the USA, it was a disappointment on a promising tournament that had both fan bases thinking that they might just be able to get a gold medal.

They will need to get over it and try to leave the tournament with at least a medal as they play for the bronze on medal day.

For the Canadians and Finns, it is a rematch of a game where the Canadians looked outclassed to lose out on the top spot in the group.

The Canadians will be looking to have a much better showing while the Finns look to complete the sweep of IIHF tournaments and a continuation of their great tournament.

It is exactly what international hockey fans want though as two great teams with plenty of talent are set to face off for the top prize this year.

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