Queen’s forward Jonathan Yantsis had two goals, UQTR’s Simon Lafrance had three assists, and TMU’s Kai Edmonds made 10 saves, helping Canada to a convincing 4-1 win over Kazakhstan, earning a berth in the gold medal game of the 2023 FISU Wolrd University Games.
After a moderately timid start to the game from both sides, the Canadians started to get a handle on Kazakhstan’s pace and puck movement. The game’s physicality intensified from there, with the Canadian’s forwards getting in on the forecheck and making the opposition’s defenders pay for being indecisive with the puck.
After a momentum-building powerplay, the Canadians got on the board, thanks to a heads up play by Jacob Paquette. The big Queen’s defenseman intercepted a lazy rim pass, stepping in front of a Kazakhstan winger and centering it to his Golden Gaels teammate Jonathan Yantsis for the tap-in in the goalmouth. The goal was the third of the tournament for Yantsis and his 10th point.
At the end of the period, Canada held a 1-0 lead, and a 13-4 advantage in shots on goal.
“They were the best team we have played so far,” said SMU’s Andrew Coxhead. “They were fast, offensively, and we hadn’t seen much of that. It took some adjusting to get used to that. Once we figured out their speed and their top players, then we did a much better job of handling them.”
The second frame started tumultuously for the Canadians, but Gardiner MacDougall’s team showed their mettle, bouncing back in a major way. At the 15:29 mark, Sayan Daniyar found a loose puck and deposited it pas TMU’s Kai Edmonds, knotting the game and testing Canada’s resilience. The Canadians were up to the challenge, turning up the physicality and causing havoc in the Kazakhstan end.
At the 8:37 mark, a puck was cleared to a waiting Noah King and the Calgary Dinos defenseman beat Denis Karatayev with a wrist shot, but the puck went wide. King and the Canadians celebrated like the puck had gone in, and after a short video review, the referee reviewed the puck had gone in, and through the mesh of the net. The goal was King’s second of the tournament, making it 2-1.
Canada wasn’t done there, as Manitoba’s Brett Davis took a seam pass from skilled SMU defender Justin MacPherson and made no mistake, roofing it past a helpless Karatayev to make it 3-1. With 2:42 remaining in the period, Yantsis scored his second of the game, taking a centering pass from UQTR’s Simon Lafrance and scoring with a low shot in the slot.
In the final minute, Kazakhstan had a glorious chance to get momentum back when Maxim Mukhametov gathered a loose puck and streaked in on Edmonds all alone. The TMU netminder was up to the task, sprawling his right leg out to thwart the opportunity and maintain a three-goal advantage after 40 minutes.
“We wanted to maintain that three-goal lead heading into the third,” said Edmonds. “I needed to make that save for the boys because they’ve had my back all tournament long.”
In the third, the Canadians controlled the play, moving the puck quickly into Kazakhstan territory and winning puck battles to earn scoring looks and bleed the clock. Neither time would reach the scoresheet, which suited Canada perfectly well, as they closed out a convincing 4-1 win to book their ticket to the gold medal game.
“It feels pretty amazing. This is where we wanted to be. The gold medal game,” said Coxhead. “I think we deserve it. We have played well. Pretty amazing opportunity. Playing in Lake Placid against the United States for a gold medal. Can’t ask for much more, really.”
Canada will take on the United States, who beat Japan 4-3 in overtime in the other semifinal, at 5:10 ET at Lake Placid’s 1980 Arena. The game will be available to Canadian viewers on TSN2.
“It doesn’t get much bigger than that. For a lot of us, it is the first time playing for Team Canada,” said Edmonds about Sunday’s matchup. “Going for gold in lake Placid at an arena with a lot of history. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
View the game summary.