New York Islanders center, Mathew Barzal, and Team Canada defeated Team Czechia 6-1 in their semifinal matchup this afternoon. Canada will now go on to play Finland in the gold medal game, and Czechia will play the United States in the Bronze Medal game.
Canada and Czechia were tied at one after the opening 20 minutes. Winnipeg Jets Adam Lowry and Columbus Blue Jackets Kent Johnson gave Canada a two-goal lead just before the 10-minute mark of the second period. On the power play, Barzal padded Canada’s lead further just a few minutes later with this snipe over the left shoulder of Arizona Coyotes and Czechia goaltender Karel Vejmelka:
Barzal has now collected two goals, three points in his last two games and five points total for the tournament. Blue Jackets forward, Cole Sillinger, spoke highly of Barzal's power-play goal and Canada's ability to score on the man advantage:
"I mean, you look at our two goals out there. [Matt] Barzal, a good shot, obviously. And then just a down-low play, take it to the net. Just simple plays. Special teams is huge in this tournament, so it's good to get plugged in at the right time."- Cole Sillinger
Canada now looks to Finland in the final which will be the first time in history that two countries will play each other in three consecutive gold medal games. Canada claimed gold in 2019, but Finland struck back in the next tournament taking home the gold in 2021.
It took Barzal a little while to get himself established in the tournament, but he’s risen to the occasion when it matters most. Headed into the Gold Medal game, Barzal will look to ride the wave of momentum.