IIHF World Championships Medal Round Preview: Upsets Flip The Script As Canada Eyes Bronze

David Kampf of Czechia (R) celebrated for his goal during the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Czechia Semifinal match between Sweden and Czech Republic at Prague Arena on May 25, 2024 in Prague, Czech Republic.

The 2024 IIHF World Hockey Championship heads to its final day of competition, and it comes with a shocking twist. Two teams entered the semi-finals with undefeated records, and neither came out ahead – both succumbed to shocking upsets. Instead, the host nation of Czecha faces off against stingy Switzerland in a Gold Medal game that is a little less deep in NHL talent but will no doubt be full of passion.

2:20 p.m. Gold Medal Matchup: Czechia vs. Switzerland Predictions

“I’d be hard-pressed to recommend you take either underdog to strike twice at this point. But the option is available for you should you want it!”

Well, I certainly hope you ignored my advice ahead of the semi-finals and latched onto one of these two countries to shock the world, because you’ll be looking pretty good if you did! Both Czechia and Switzerland came through with absolutely monstrous upsets – one that felt a little familiar and one that was completely blindsiding.

Canada’s loss was the familiar one. Like we warned on Friday, the Swiss have a habit of playing strong counter-attacking hockey, getting great goaltending, and rising to the occasional against Canada. All of that came to be on Saturday, though the Swiss were the ones who got the party started, thanks to their NHL talent. Kevin Fiala put them up 1-0 with five minutes remaining in the first period, and two minutes later, Nino Niederreiter followed up. Brandon Tanev and John Tavares eventually brought the game all square, across the second and third periods, but couldn’t pull away. Overtime solved nothing, and in the shootout former Montreal Canadiens forward Sven Andrighetto completed the upset. The first star of this game was in between the pipes for Switzerland. 36-year-old veteran Leonardo Genoni got the nod over Devils netminder Akira Schmid, and he lived up to the moment, stopping 42 of 44 shots and only allowing one goal in the shootout.

On the other hand, Czechia looked to make their home crowd proud, and they did, with a shocking win over Sweden. It wasn’t just a scrape-ahead win like the Swiss’ win—this was a rout. Having only allowed ten goals in eight games to this point, the Czech’s managed to put seven in the back of the net, running Filip Gustavsson out the crease before putting two more past Samuel Ersson. Carolina Hurricanes forward Martin Necas, who has been the focus of trade speculation, exploded for a goal and three assists, while Dominik Kubalik of the Ottawa Senators put up two goals and an assist. Maple Leafs forward David Kampf added a goal and assist of his own, as did former Leafs winger Ondrej Kase.

This now leaves the projected Bronze Medal matchup as the Gold Medal matchup instead. The Czechs come in as favourites, having a clear home-ice advantage and carrying momentum from their explosion on Saturday. At the same time, should Switzerland get another great performance out of Genoni, the victor is anyone’s guess.

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CZE -150

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9:20 a.m. Bronze Medal Matchup: Canada vs. Sweden Predictions

Before the puck is dropped on the Gold Medal Game, the two deepest teams in the tournament, at least on paper, fight for a bit of redemption in the Bronze Medal Game.

From Day 1 until Semi-Final Saturday, Sweden and Canada were neck and neck for the best futures odds to win the tournament. Neither team had lost a game along the way until they got hit with their respective stunners.

While glory is no longer on the line, pride is, because no one wants to be the team that starts this tournament 8-0 and walks out of the tenth game without a medal to show for it. Sweden hopes for a better showing in goal and stronger performances from its top players (Victor Hedman, who was excellent against the Czechs, notwithstanding).

Canada will require a greater sense of offensive urgency, and I wonder if Connor Bedard is given more minutes tomorrow, having set up the tying goal and having been limited in recent games. While he hasn’t played at his best, he hasn’t been given much of an opportunity to play himself out of the rut – now that Gold is out of the question, I hope he’s given the keys on Sunday.

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CAN -105

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