Canada looked like they were going to disappoint us all this morning as we woke up across the nation before the sun rises to watch some World Juniors action.
An early goal by Slovakia followed by a terrible hit by J.C. Lipon that lead to a 5 minute major and game misconduct, and another goal by Slovakia.
Canada was outshot 11-4 in the opening period in an embarrassing display, and ended the period down 2-0. Determined to start the second period a bit better, Ryan Strome got Canada on the board with a beautiful shot.
Soon after however, Canada was penalized again with a 5 minute major, this time for an entirely clean hit by Anthony Camara. The hit was called clean originally, but due to an injury to the Slovak player the referees convened and decided that it was charging, even though it wasn't, and gave Camara a game misconduct to boot.
The two game misconducts will be reviewed, and it's possible both players will be suspended for 1 game, putting Canada down to 10 forwards against the USA in the next game with Boone Jenner also still serving a suspension.
After scoring on a 5-on-3 advantage, Slovakia looked to be a real threat to win the game, but from there on out it was all Canada, as Maple Leafs prospect Morgan Reilly cued the comeback with a great goal just over a minute later, which started a streak of 5 unanswered goals.
Morgan Reilly and Xavier Oullet were standouts on Canada's blueline all game, both making a serious impact on the comeback win. Dougie Hamilton on the other hand is still a little disappointing.
The big problems for Canada so far seem to be coming out of the gate slow, and defensive zone coverage. Ryan Murphy in particular is prone to making mental mistakes in the defensive zone which has created chaos on several occasions. Canada needs to work on cutting off the cross-seam pass on the penalty kill if they hope to compete against the highly skilled American and Russian rosters.
Mark Scheifele won the player of the game honours for Canada with a goal and an assist, but perhaps more importantly Scheifele was drawing penalties and making great plays while driving the net all game.
Next up on the docket Canada is a game against the USA on December 30th.