A Canadian tradition comes to its peak on Thursday afternoon, but there’s a Kelowna Rockets connection on the other side.
Canada and Czechia are matching up in the gold medal game of the 2023 World Junior Hockey Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Thursday after both winning their semi-final games on Wednesday.
While everyone in Kelowna will be cheering for Canada in the game, there’s Kelowna Rockets connections on both sides but only one will be taking part in the game.
Rockets forward Gabriel Szturc will be in the Czechia lineup. He helped Czechia overcome a seemingly impossible deficit when he got an assist on Czechia’s game-tying goal with 50 seconds left to tie the semi-final at one.
In the tournament, Szturc has eight points (five goals, three assists) with a +9 rating in six games. He is wearing number 27 for Czechia.
For Canada, they also have a member of the Rockets who won’t be in the lineup. Canada and Rockets forward Colton Dach has been out with an injury for Canada since their New Year’s Eve game against Sweden. The Chicago Blackhawks prospect got replaced on the roster because of his injury and will be heading to Chicago to get looked at by the Blackhawks training staff before returning to the Rockets. The extend of his injury is unknown.
In the first game of the tournament, Czechia beat Canada 5-2. Szturc didn’t record a point in the game.
Canada is playing in their 20th gold medal game in 28 years while Szturc and Czechia are playing in their first gold medal game in 22 years and haven’t won a medal (bronze) since 2005.
The gold medal game starts at 3:30 p.m. Pacific time.