Cole Caufield and Oliver Kapanen Bow Out of World Hockey Championship

Kaiden Guhle is the only Montreal Canadien moving on to the World Hockey Championship semifinals.
USA v Czechia - 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Czechia
USA v Czechia - 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Czechia / RvS.Media/Monika Majer/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens had four players with a chance to advance to the semifinals on quarterfinal Thursday, but Kaiden Guhle was the only one to do it. Guhle eliminated Juraj Slafkofsky in the early slate of games on Thursday morning. Cole Caufield and Team USA had to take on the host Czechia squad on Thursday afternoon. Meanwhile, Oliver Kapanen and Team Finland battled their rivals, Team Sweden.

Cole Caufield's struggles at the World Championship were well-recognized, but a four-point outing against Poland in their final round-robin game gave everyone belief that he would turn it around in the playoffs. Caufield and the rest of the Team USA offense couldn't get it done, losing 1-0 to Czechia in the quarterfinals.

Finland tied the game up late against Sweden to send the game to overtime tied at one, but Joel Eriksson-Ek scored the winning goal to steal Kapanen's chance at a medal. It wasn't all bad for Kapanen. He finished the tournament with the team lead in points, scoring six goals in eight games.

Slovakia 1 - USA 0

There wasn't much action in the third quarterfinal game of the day. Only one shot got past the goalie when Pavel Zacha scored on the powerplay from Roman Cervenka and David Spacek. Czechia played a solid defensive game, but the United States managed 39 shots on goaltender Lukas Dostal.

It's hard to pinpoint where it went wrong for the United States, as they had plenty of offensive talent but couldn't find the back of the net. It's easy to look at players like Caufield and Trevor Zegras and say they should've done more for their country, but sometimes you run into a hot goaltender.

Canadiens fans shouldn't look too deep into Caufield's struggles. He has had some disappointing personal performances at the international level before and hasn't changed his production in the NHL. He is still likely in contention to be a pick for the Four Nations Faceoff and the 2026 Olympics.

Sweden 2 - Finland 1

The other late quarterfinal game was also slow on the offensive side. It's no big surprise that a matchup between Sweden and Finland was a defensive battle, as both nations like to play slow and goad their opponents into mistakes.

Rasmus Dahlin opened the scoring for Sweden with five minutes remaining in the third period, looking like it could be enough to get the job done. However, Finland poured the pressure on for the next five minutes, with Hannes Bjorninen scoring the equalizer with 58 seconds remaining.

The game went to 3 on 3 overtime, and Sweden was given a powerplay five minutes into the extra frame. Sweden's top players stayed on for the duration and finally broke through when Victor Hedman got a shot from the point, which Joel Eriksson-Ek tipped in for the win.

Oliver Kapanen was a non-factor in this game, registering no points and no shots on goal. Kapanen's run through this tournament still should be viewed as a success, as he didn't look out of place playing against some of the world's best players.

Semifinal Saturday

The semifinal matchups for Saturday are now set after they reseeded the tournament. Czechia will face Sweden in the early matchup, starting at 8:20 AM ET, while Kaiden Guhle and Team Canada will take on Switzerland in the later game at 12:20 PM ET.

Czechia beat Finland 1-0 in a shootout in their round-robin matchup, but that was before they gained David Pastrnak, Pavel Zacha, and Martin Necas. Canada beat Switzerland 3-2. It's a strange situation, as all four teams advancing to the semifinal were in Pool A and have already played each other.