Nathan Gaucher is having a pretty special summer.
In early July, the 18-year-old from Chambly, Quebec, heard he was drafted 22nd overall by the Anaheim Ducks in the NHL Draft. did.
Now, as his team competes with Canada for the gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton, he's working on another dream come true.
"I've been focusing a lot on hockey," he said.
"Sometimes it's tempting to distract yourself in the summer. But this summer, I can't complain. It was great." To do so, Gaucher and Team Canada will have to overtake their familiar -- if unexpected -- opponents in Friday's semifinals.
The Czech Republic, commonly known as the Czech Republic, earned a spot in the game by defeating reigning champions USA in Thursday's quarterfinals.
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READ MORE: Czechs beat USA to 4 in quarterfinal upset at World Juniors
Canada's 5-1 victory over the Czech Republic in the qualifying round meant nothing for Friday's match, Gaucher said. rice field.
"We were watching the (US vs. Czech) game yesterday. Big team wins, big sacrifices," he said Thursday. "So we have to go back to the little things and forget what we did to them before."
Canada (5-0-0) were undefeated in five games of the tournament. However, the Czech Republic (2-2-1) struggled in round robin, losing to Latvia, Slovakia and Canada.
"Everyone was pretty down, so the coach's job was to make them believe they could beat America," said goalkeeper Ondrej Pavelek, who coached him said. "I think we played a great game.
"We played with fire. We played it the right way. It wasn't scary at all. We just fought hard." And we beat them.”
It takes a similar mindset to post another upset on Saturday.
Canada is a fast team full of skilled players, he said Pavelec. ``You have to have discipline.
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"If you play 5 on 5, you have a chance."
Czech, 2005 Although they have not won a medal at the world juniors since winning bronze in 2021, Canada, who won silver in the 2021 tournament, have not ruled them out.
"(The Czechs) are a great team," said captain Mason McTavish.
"They work really hard, they jam the center and it's hard to get inside and score. We're going to focus on doing that."
Canada's head coach, Dave Cameron, says all teams are good teams by the time they reach the semi-finals in tournaments like the World Juniors.
At this point, it doesn't matter who his team faces.
"It's about us," said Cameron. "And we have to run our system and make sure we don't beat ourselves up. And then let's see what happens."
Canada said she In five games she outscored her opponents 33-10 and the Czechs won her 15-20.
Special His team is also important for the Canadian, with his 54.5% of chances and his 83.3% penalties power plays that capitalize on his kills.
However, the Canadians may be missing an important piece on Friday.
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Forward Ridley Greig won Wednesday's 6-3 quarterfinal victory over Switzerland in the first round. He was sent off with an apparent shoulder injury in his period. He didn't practice with his teammates on Thursday and Cameron said he wasn't sure if he would be available for Friday's game. Canada en route to semifinals at World Juniors in Edmonton after winning 3
Greig, Ottawa Senator Candidate, gives Canada 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists) in tournament and is a key factor in penalty kills.
According to McTavish, it would be "almost impossible" to fill his role.
"He's a really good player," he said.
"Consistency. Probably one of the hardest things is to do well in each game. So it's definitely going to be tough.
The Czech Republic go into Friday's game with limited expectations, while home-based Canada are perennial favorites in the tournament.
Pressure is mounting as the Canadians continue their quest for gold, defenseman Oren Zellweger said. I think we need to prepare in the same way," he said.
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"This is a hockey game and you have to be ready and sharp from the start."
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