BUFFALO, N.Y. — Drake Batherson had a hat trick to lead Canada past the Czech Republic 7-2 on Thursday in the semifinal of the world junior hockey championship.
Canada will play Sweden in the gold-medal game Friday night.
Sam Steel, Maxime Comtois, Jordan Kyrou, Boris Katchouk also scored for Canada. Carter Hart made 18 saves in net for the win.
Filip Zadina had a pair of goals for the Czech Republic.
Czech goalie Josef Korenar stopped 17-of-23 shots in 36:58 of work before he was replaced by Jakub Skarek. He turned aside 14-of-16 shots in relief.
Sweden beat the host Americans 4-2 in the tournament’s other semifinal earlier Thursday. The Czechs will face the U.S. in the bronze-medal game on Friday afternoon.
Defenceman Victor Mete was in the lineup after missing Canada’s 8-2 quarterfinal win over Switzerland on Tuesday with a lower-body injury. The Montreal Canadiens prospect had been hurt in Canada’s 4-3 shootout loss to the United States on Dec. 29 and played limited minutes against Denmark on Dec. 30.
Zadina opened scoring less than six minutes into the first, dangling the puck around a Canadian defender and then whipping it past Hart.
Steel replied with 4:55 left to go in the first while on the power play. Kale Clague sent him a long pass from the point and Steel blasted a slapshot from the face-off circle to tie it 1-1.
Batherson added another power-play goal for Canada 3:03 later. Cale Makar sent a low shot in from the point that Batherson tipped past Korenar for a 2-1 lead.
Hart won his game within the game in the first intermission. One of the Canadian goalie’s idiosyncrasies is that he likes to be the last player off the ice at the end of each period. The backup goaltenders of Finland and Switzerland both tried to outwait him earlier in the tournament, with Hart having to resort to hiding in the tunnel to deke out Swiss goalie Matteo Ritz.
But on Thursday night Hart went virtually unchallenged with only Czech forward Krystof Hrabik pausing at the boards for a minute before heading to the locker-room.
Batherson scored on an almost identical play at the 12:12 mark of the second, deflecting another Makar shot from the blue line past Korenar. This goal was at even strength, however.
Comtois made it 4-1 nearly two minutes later, knocking in a pass from Brett Howden who had chased the puck down on the forecheck and passed back from behind the goal-line. Kyrou then piled on, skating around the crease with the puck until Korenar committed to a diving save and the Canadian forward put it into the open net.
Batherson completed his hat trick in the second, skating in alone on Korenar, flipping it over his shoulder with 3:02 left in the period. The goal chased Korenar from net, with Skarek coming in.
Katchouk put away Canada’s seventh goal of the night 5:15 into the third, snapping a wrist shot from the slot past Skarek.
Hart and Clague had a miscommunication with 9:49 left in the third period, with both reaching for the puck. In the confusion Zadina took the puck and slipped it into the Canadian net.
Batherson and Zadina’s multi-goal nights put them into a three-way tie for the goal-scoring lead at the tournament with American Kieffer Bellows.