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In Pictures: Canada will go for gold after win over U.S.

BUFFALO, N.Y. - The showdown with the United States turned into a one-sided win for Canada, but an old and dangerous rival awaits in the final of the world junior hockey championship: Russia.

BUFFALO, N.Y. - The showdown with the United States turned into a one-sided win for Canada, but an old and dangerous rival awaits in the final of the world junior hockey championship: Russia.

Curtis Hamilton and Quinton Howden scored in the first period and Canada rode the energy of a boisterous, mostly red and white crowd to a 4-1 victory over the pre-tournament favourites before a full house of 18,690 at HSBC Arena on Monday night.

The victory avenged Canada's shock 6-5 overtime loss to the Americans on home ice in Saskatoon last year.

"To get another crack at the gold medal is huge for the four returning guys as well as the team," said centre Brayden Schenn, one of the quartet of holdovers from last year's final. "It was a heartbreaking loss and for us to get another chance, that's what we want.

"But it's not going to be easy."

Russia reached the final with a comeback 4-3 shootout win over Sweden in the other semifinal and will bring a quick, opportunistic squad that also pulled out a dramatic win in the quarter-finals against Finland, where they erased a 3-1 third-period deficit.

"You don't have to give them a lot for them to bury it, so staying out of the penalty box will be key," said Schenn. "You've got to limit their scoring chances and opportunities."

Canada reached the final for the tenth consecutive year, a mark that includes victories over the Russians in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Canada is 7-5 all-time in finals against teams from Russia or the Soviet Union.

Ryan Johansen and Zack Kassian also scored for Canada, which outshot the nervous-looking Americans 41-23 in dominating all three zones and the faceoff circles, while also carrying the physical play.

"We didn't want to sit back. We wanted to come out with a lot of speed. We came out hard in the first period and didn't give them much," said Schenn, the tournament scoring leader who was held off the scoresheet for the first time in six games. "We got great support. People were coming over the border. It was great.

"Hopefully it will be the same in the final."

Canada lost its final preliminary round game in a shootout to Sweden and had to beat Switzerland 4-1 in the quarter-finals to set up the meeting with the U.S., who like Sweden had a bye to the semifinals.

There were concerns about Canada's defence, which played its best game to date, and the goaltending, but Mark Visentin was sharp enough on the few good chances the Americans could muster. Closing his arm on Charlie Coyle's tip from the edge of the crease on a U.S. power play late in the second frame was perhaps Visentin's best moment.

Chris Brown got the Americans' only goal on a power play in the third period, which briefly gave the U.S some life but the hosts would get no closer.

"We were a little lackadaisical and a little big-headed," U.S. forward Emerson Etem said of his team's performance.

"It's hard for it to sink in," said U.S. forward Ryan Bourque, son of defence great Ray Bourque. "They outworked us and they dominated us. That's tough, but now we have to focus on the bronze medal game because any medal at this tournament is an honour."

Canadian fans clearly outnumbered their U.S. counterparts and their chants of "Ca-Na-Da" were drowning out the home side's "U-S-A" before the puck was even dropped. As Canada built its lead, they even claimed "This is our house" and got little argument.

Canada came out flying and the Americans looked to be on their heels in their first taste in the tournament of high-paced, heavy-hitting hockey.

Only 2:38 in, Cody Eakin found Hamilton alone on the left side and he put in his own rebound on the first two shots of the game.

A counterattack saw Howden redirect Brett Connelly's pass behind U.S. goalie Jack Campbell at 13:54 to make it 2-0.

Canada had a two-man advantage as Coyle hooked down Schenn. Johansen was in front to knock in a Ryan Ellis rebound 5:59 into the second.

The end of another penalty kill saw Calvin de Haan send Kassian in on a breakaway and he beat Campbell, his teammate with the Windsor Spitfires, on a low shot at 6:02 of the third.

The Americans finally got one at 9:37 when Brown batted a bouncing puck inside the near post, but the Canadian fans were singing "Na Na Goodbye" and "We want Russia" as time wound down.

"I'm proud we beat them, there's a little redemption there, but we still have a job to do," said Ellis, the team captain. "It's all about the gold."

Canada beat the Russians 6-3 to open the tournament, a game that was close for two periods, but both teams have evolved since then.

The Russians are led by captain Vladimir Tarasenko, a St. Louis Blues first-round pick who is probably the most skilled attacker on any team in the tournament. Like many Russian teams over the years, they look to be coasting for long periods, but then can score in bunches with an explosion of energy.

"You can never count those guys out," added Ellis. "They're highly skilled and they always want to beat the Canadians. We're the same way, we want to beat them too. It should be an exciting game."

The Americans will face Sweden in the bronze medal game. The U.S. is seeking its first medal of any kind in the five times the country has hosted to the tournament.

Notes: Bourque celebrated his 20th birthday. ... Switzerland's Tristan Scherwey has been suspended one game for a hit on Canada's Carter Ashton in their quarter-final. He will miss the game for fifth place against Finland. ... Canada has a 4-0 record against the U.S. in world junior semifinals. ... Canadian Olympic team general manager Steve Yzerman spoke to the team before the game and watched from the press box.

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