Canada’s Brett Howden (21) scores past Switzerland’s Philip Wuthrich (30) during first period quarter-final IIHF World Junior Championships hockey action in Buffalo, N.Y., on Tuesday, January 2, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Canada moves to world juniors semi-final with win over Swiss

Dubé scores one goal in quarter-final win over Switzerland at 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship

Team Canada booked their tickets to the semi-final of the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship by defeating Switzerland 8-2 on Tuesday.

“We managed the game we wanted to. Guys stuck with the game and when you run the score a little bit sometimes you can get away from our game and we didn’t do that. They kept their focus,” said Team Canada coach Dominique Ducharme.

The win means Team Canada, which includes B.C. players captain Dillon Dubé (Cochrane, Alta./Kelowna Rockets, WHL), Cal Foote (Kelowna/Kelowna Rockets, WHL) and former Penticton Vees defenceman Dante Fabbro (Coquitlam/Boston University, HE), will now face the Czech Republic on Thursday at 5 p.m.

Drake Batherson (New Minas, N.S./Cape Breton, QMJHL) scored a pair of goals and Brett Howden (Oakbank, Man./Moose Jaw, WHL) added a goal and three assists and Dubé had one goal in Tuesday’s quarter-final win.

Canada controlled the play from the first drop of the puck, scoring three times in the first 13 minutes and directing 60 shots at the Swiss goaltending duo of Philip Wüthrich and Matteo Ritz. Carter Hart (Sherwood Park, Alta./Everett, WHL) needed to make just 13 saves to record his third win of the tournament.

I think we’ve progressed really well, we keep building every day and we’ve progressed a lot since the first game to where we are now. I think (in preparing for the semifinals) the Finland game was a big wakeup [for us] – a close intense game; the boys are fired up and it’s going to be fun,” said Batherson.

It took less than a minute for the scoring to start; Maxime Comtois (Longueuil, Que./Victoriaville, QMJHL) fed Howden for a 1-0 lead just 48 seconds after the puck dropped.

Cale Makar (Calgary, Alta./University of Massachusetts, HE) made it three consecutive games with a goal, scoring at 8:29, and Batherson jammed in a power play goal from in close at 12:06 to send Canada to the intermission up three.

Batherson added his second goal just past the six-minute mark of the second period, jumping off the bench and picking up a loose puck before picking the top corner over the glove of Wüthrich. He played a role in the fifth Canadian goal without being on the ice; after Jordan Kyrou (Toronto, Ont./Sarnia, OHL) broke his stick, he grabbed Batherson’s just seconds before snapping a quick shot under the arm of Wüthrich.

That was all for the Swiss goaltender, who was replaced by Ritz.

Dario Rohrbach got one back for Switzerland at 8:46 when his redirection hit the skate of Fabbro and eluded Hart, but Conor Timmins (Thorold, Ont./Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) snuck in off the blue-line to finish a Tyler Steenbergen (Sylvan Lake, Alta./Swift Current, WHL) set-up and restore the five-goal lead after 40 minutes.

Less than a minute after Axel Simic scored shorthanded for the Swiss just past the midway mark of the third period, Dubé ripped home a one-timer to make it 7-2, and Comtois put in his own rebound in the final minute to finish the scoring.

The other semifinals will see the host U.S., who defeated Russia 4-2 in the quarter-finals, face-off against Sweden, who defeated Slovakia 3-2. That game will start at 1 p.m. on Thursday. The bronze medal game will be played at 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 5 and the gold medal game at 5 p.m.

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