The stage is set for a pair of monumental semifinals on day nine of the championship featuring a quartet of the most storied teams in the men’s game. Both games will be televised on ESPN2 in the United States and TSN in Canada.
Canada vs. Haudenosaunee – 5 p.m. PT (Snapdragon Stadium)
United States vs. Australia – 8 p.m. PT (Snapdragon Stadium)
Canada has advanced to the gold medal game in the last six men’s championships, dating back to 1998, while the Haudenosaunee are looking to advance to their first ever final. The two teams battled out to a one-goal 8-7 thriller in Pool A play on Sunday, as Canada hung on to its slim lead in the final few minutes by limiting the Haudenosaunee from having the ball.
Canada has owned the third best scoring defense in San Diego, spearheaded by Ryland Rees, Brodie Merrill and Graeme Hossack. Canada has limited opponents to just a 21% shooting percentage, and whens shots are frame, the goalkeeping duo of Dillon Ward and Brett Dobson have combined for a 58% save percentage, the fourth best team save percentage in the championship.
Justin Inacio and Jake Wither have helped Canada control possession with a combined 60% face-off percentage. Canada’s fifth-ranked second offense has rounded into form, boosted by a 20-goal effort against Jamaica in the quarterfinals. Five different players have 10 or more points in Josh Byrne, Jeff Teat, Curtis Dickson, Dyson Williams and Connor Fields, while Ryan Lee also has nine goals. Canada will look to stress the Haudenosaunee defense across multiple pressure points until one of its star attackers can create a breakdown.
The Haudenosaunee’s success has started on the offensive end, as its fourth-ranked scoring offense has been nearly impossible to slow down due to the trio of Austin Staats, Randy Staats and Lyle Thompson. Austin Staats leads the tournament with 30 points and 23 goals, and has overwhelmed defenders with his strength and skill. Randy Staats’ 11 assists rank fourth in the championship. The Haudenosanueee rank just 20th overall in face-off percentage with at 43%, so Jeremy Thompson and Brooker Muir will have to bring their best effort.
Defensively, the Haudenosaunee are allowing just six goals a game, a top-ten mark in the field. The Haudenosaunee have mixed up defensive coverages and will try to scheme their way into slowing down Canada’s potent offense. Jacob Piseno, Ron John, Oakley Thomas and Zedekiah Hill will try to match up against Canada’s top threats, and goalkeeper Warren Hill will need to continue his strong play after making 10 saves against Japan.
The United States, ten-time champions in the competition, are advancing to the semifinal round – the team has made the gold medal game in all 13 of its previous appearances. Australia will try to make history and reverse a 12-3 scoreline from when the teams met in pool play.
The United States have the third best scoring offense and the second best scoring defense, and have been troubled twice – against Canada and the Haudenosaunee. The attacking burden has been shared equally by the team’s star talent, with Kieran McArdle, Rob Pannell, Brennan O’Neill, Matt Rambo and Michael Sowers all registering over 10 points. Defensively, Jesse Bernhardt has been one of the best players in the tournament, and John Thomas Giles-Harris and Jack Rowlett have also been strong. TD Ierlan and Trevor Baptiste have combined for a tournament-best 82% face-off percentage, and goalkeeping duo of Blaze Riorden and Jack Kelly have been ready when called upon.
Australia’s counting stats are influenced by its competition against Pool A, but the team has recorded two quality wins over England, including in the quarterfinals, and a dominant playoff win over the Netherlands. Mitchell Baker, Matt Heuston and Brayden Panting will lead the attack while goalkeepers Sean Aaron and Ryan Spark will look to make crucial saves to keep Australia in the game.
The schedule of placement games on day nine can be found here.