2023 World Junior Championship Semi-Final Predictions: Canada vs USA

Welcome to our 2023 World Junior Championship predictions. We’ll take an in-depth look at each game taking place in the Canadian Maritimes. These looks will happen for each game until the gold-medal game. We’ll try to give you the information you need to get an edge. Here we look at the World Juniors semi-final matchup between the host Canada and Team USA. Be sure to check out the other semi-final and the one relegation game today.

2023 World Junior Championship Predictions

Canada vs USA

It is upon us, one of the best rivalries in all sports. Dating back to January 1, 1977, the two junior hockey powerhouses have squared off 48 times. Canada owns the upper hand, and by a perhaps larger than expected margin. Canada’s record over the USA is an impressive 33-12-3. Additionally, when the two teams met in previous semi-final games, Canada has four victories to the American’s one. In this tournament, both teams have a 4-1 record, with only one contest going to extra time, Canada’s Quarterfinal overtime victory against Slovakia.

It may be by design and inherited knowledge of what it takes to be successful, but both teams are eerily similar. The USA has outscored their opponents 30 to 12, while the Canadians are at 33 to 11. They each rely on their top-line and power play for success. Even though the depth on each roster is more than capable, both teams’ top lines have been disproportionately dominant. Canada’s number-one forward line of Connor Bedard, Logan Stankoven (Dallas Stars), and Joshua Roy (Montreal Canadiens) has combined for 13 goals. Moreover, the Team USA top unit, including Jimmy Snuggerud (St. Louis Blues), Logan Cooley (Arizona Coyotes), and Cutter Gauthier (Philadelphia Flyers), have registered 12 goals.

The US-Canadian Battle of Power Plays

Sticking with the theme of similarities with the teams, we can discuss the specialty teams. Canada has the top power play in the tournament at 50%. Furthermore, their penalty kill has been tested, currently at sixth in tournament rankings at 76.2%. For the US, they are third on the power play at 37.5%, but a hair better penalty kill in fourth place with 84.6% efficiency. Each team’s top power-play unit has a supplemental scorer besides the first line. For the US, it is Tyler Boucher (Ottawa Senators) who has scored three goals in the tournament and has been a strong net-front presence on the power play. For Canada, it has been Dylan Guenther (Arizona Coyotes) who has totalled five goals in the tournament. Guenther positions himself on the left side of the slot to receive one-time passes from Connor Bedard or defenceman Ollen Zellweger (Anaheim Ducks).

Before we get into each team’s keys to victory, here are a few more interesting points. So far, each team’s only loss was by three goals. Canada lost 5-2 to Czechia in its first game, and the USA lost 6-3 at the hands of Slovakia. Canada also had a tough time against Slovakia, narrowly sneaking out the victory thanks to the overtime winner by Bedard. Canada has probably spread out its scoring throughout the line-up a little better, but not significantly. Look for Captain Shane Wright (Seattle Kraken) to make himself a difference-maker. Both teams have had contributions from the defence. Canada has three D-man with four or more points. Meanwhile, the USA has had a few contributors, with Ryan Ufko (Nashville Predators) leading the way with seven noteworthy assists.

Team Canada Keys To Victories

Let’s not kid ourselves. If Canada’s top line is not scoring, they may struggle. There is no reason to suspect them to struggle and look for them to contribute on the score sheet. When it comes down to a winner take all game, Canada will also rely on its more experienced goaltender. Thomas Milic has done great, posting three wins, a .921 SV%, and a 1.68 GAA. Canada is loaded with depth beyond its top line. Look for someone with a quiet tournament so far to step up. Adam Fantilli has three points until now. Watch for him to rise to the occasion in this epic matchup. Most importantly for Canada, they have to stay disciplined. Once their dynamic forwards draw penalties, they must back away and own the power play.

Team USA Path to Success

This US team, like the Canadians, is loaded with talent. They have managed to overcome the question marks surrounding their young goaltenders with the outstanding play of Trey Augustine. Augustine has compiled all four wins and all the while supporting a tidy .938 SV%. Moreover, their line-up has many dynamic game breakers, both up-front and on D. Watch for big performances by players like Lane Hutson (Montreal Canadiens) or Chaz Lucius (Winnipeg Jets). For a winning game plan, they will use big bodies like Rutger McGroarty (Winnipeg Jets) to play a physical game and make life difficult on the Canadian transitional up-the-ice movement.

Notes on Bedard’s Brilliance

Even though the Canadian team, including Bedard himself, brush it off, his individual scoring accomplishments are amazing. Bedard has smashed Canadian World Junior records to this point and even has an outside shot at tournament records. Regardless of the result of this game, he is guaranteed two more matches. First of all, Bedard’s 21 points in this year’s tournament have eclipsed the previous record of 18 held by Brayden Schenn and Dale McCourt. Also, his 16 World Junior goals are two more than Jordan Eberle’s previous Team Canada high standard. Lastly, with the encouragement of the man himself, Eric Lindros’ previous career point record of 31 has already passed. Bedard has 34 points, and his 14 games are seven fewer than it took ‘The Big E’ to accomplish the feat.


Based on what we have seen in the tournament, this game should be one of the best. There is no reason to anticipate anything but a hard-hitting, high-octane offence and a close game. One thing to take to the bank is to look for Connor Bedard to have another big effort. The Americans will be a tough test, and their big forwards like Boucher or Gauthier will have a significant impact on the outcome. The Canadian wingers will have to watch the American defenceman closely to protect them from jumping in the attack in the offensive zone. Suppose Canada can remain responsible in a disciplinary sense and with defensive coverage. In that case, they should be able to advance to the Gold medal game against the winner of Sweden and Czechia.

Prediction: Team Canada wins 6-4.

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