Un­der­dogs, hockey ri­vals to bat­tle

StarMetro Edmonton - - SPORTS - Gemma Karstens-Smith

VAN­COU­VER—A pair of up­sets has cre­ated a bat­tle of the un­der­dogs in the semi­fi­nal round of this year’s world ju­nior hockey cham­pi­onship.

Switzer­land and Fin­land are still in medal con­tention af­ter post­ing sur­pris­ing wins over last year’s cham­pion and run­ner-up.

The U.S. and Rus­sia also ad­vanced, though their vic­to­ries were less shock­ing.

Here’s a look at what to ex­pect in the semi­fi­nals:

SWITZER­LAND (2-0-1-2) VS. FIN­LAND (2-1-0-2)

Both teams punched their tick­ets to the play­offs with stun­ning vic­to­ries over ju­nior hockey pow­er­houses on Wed­nes­day.

Switzer­land blanked Swe­den 2-0 and Fin­land squeaked out a 2-1 over­time win against Canada.

But nei­ther team thinks it will be easy to get to the gold medal game.

“What I’ve seen so far, we’ll have a tough op­po­nent against us,” Fin­nish coach Jussi Ahokas said Thurs­day.

RUS­SIA (5-0-0-0) VS. U.S. (4-0-1-0)

Old ri­val­ries run deep with th­ese two teams.

U.S. coach Mike Hast­ings said Thurs­day that he’s “pretty old” so he knows a lot about what’s hap­pened be­tween the two squads.

“There’s a lot of his­tory that goes in my mind,” he said, point­ing out the “Mir­a­cle on Ice” at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid.

Both teams are com­ing into the semi­fi­nals con­fi­dent af­ter post­ing con­vinc­ing wins in the quar­ter-fi­nals. More at thes­tar.com/sports

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