The No. 1 overall draft pick from 2015 will go head-to-head with the (almost certain) No. 1 pick in 2016 on Saturday. Auston Matthews helped the U.S. upset the Czech Republic on Thursday and setup a North American showdown with Connor McDavid and Team Canada.
Matthews was the hero for the U.S., scoring in regulation to tie the game, then scoring the only goal in the shootout in their 2-1 quarterfinal win. Both goals showed off his quick hands and slick moves. Here’s the shootout winner, a sneaky filthy move where he fakes the goalie then deftly goes five-hole.
The Czechs were the surprise winners of Group A, but had a hard time beating U.S. goalie Keith Kinkaid on Thursday. Kincaid made 31 saves in regulation and overtime, and stopped all three shooters in the shootout. Matthews’ goal was his team-leading fifth of the tournament.
Canada had an easier time in its quarterfinal against Sweden, though McDavid was quiet. Six different players scored and 11 had points in a 6-0 rout. Mark Scheifele and Mark Stone each had a goal and two assists, and Cam Talbot made 22 saves for the shutout.
Canada, the defending gold medallists, rolled through the preliminary round going 6-0 before being blanked by Finland in its final game in a battle for first place. Canada’s 6-1 round-robin record included a convincing 5-1 win over the U.S. on the opening day of the tournament. The U.S.-Canada semifinal should draw some extra fans anxious to get another look at Matthews before draft day.
In the other quarterfinals, Finland beat Denmark 5-1, and Russia beat Germany 4-1 to setup another star-studded semifinal. Patrik Laine scored his seventh goal of the tournament on this snipe to put Finland ahead 3-1 and put the game out of reach.
Laine, the presumed No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, has 11 points in eight tournament games.
Both semifinals are on Saturday, and the gold and bronze medal games are on Sunday.