Schneider and Team Canada to play for gold at IIHF World Championship

Photo Courtesy of Hockey Canada Braden Schneider celebrates with his teammates after Andrew Mangiapane found the back of the net in Canada's 4-2 win over the United States on Saturday.

After starting the 2021 IIHF World Championship with three straight losses, Canada has reached the gold medal game in Riga, Latvia.

The Canadians, who feature Prince Albert product and New York Rangers prospect Braden Schneider on the blueline, earned a spot in Sunday’s championship contest with a 4-2 triumph over the United States in Saturday’s semifinal.

“We believed that we had a good team and we knew that we had a lot of good players, but we just couldn’t score in those first three games,” Ottawa Senators forward Connor Brown said. “The tide turned and now the puck is going in for us.”

“We’re playing our best hockey now and we’re trying to ride the momentum,” Calgary Flames forward Andrew Mangiapane added. “We’ve been the underdogs in almost every game (after starting 0-3) and we keep proving people wrong, but we have one more game left to go here and we just need to take care of business.”

Mangiapane continued his impressive tournament with a two-goal performance, while Brown and his Senators teammate Nick Paul had a pair of assists each.

Brandon Pirri (Chicago Blackhawks) and Justin Danforth (Vitayz Podolsk) also scored for Canada, who received a 36-save performance from Darcy Kuemper (Arizona Coyotes).

Schneider, who has an assist in eight games so far at the tournament, was held off the scoresheet.

The Americans got their offence from Colin Blackwell (New York Rangers) and Sasha Chmelevski (San Jose Sharks) in the loss, which saw Cal Petersen (Los Angeles Kings) turn aside 29 shots.

“Their intensity at the start was a little higher than ours and I think we were probably in our own heads a little bit,” team captain Brian Boyle said. “We were trying to play the perfect game instead of just playing hockey.”

Canada’s opponent in the final will be Finland, as the defending world champions edged out Germany 2-1 in Saturday’s other semifinal.

The gold medal game will get underway at 11:15 a.m. Sunday and will air nationally on TSN.