Canada wrapped up the exhibition portion of the World Junior Hockey Championship with a commanding 6-0 victory over the Swiss, giving Team Canada a 2-0-1 record through three pre-tournament games. To say that the group that’s playing with the maple leaf on their chests have been dominant thus far would be an understatement. Even in the group’s one and only loss, they still outshot the opposition (Russia) heavily, and were defeated in overtime.
Heading into the tournament opener against Slovakia on Boxing Day, Canada will be looking to build on the momentum that it created with Tuesday’s win over Switzerland. In order to do so, they’ll have to focus on what it was that made them successful in pre-tournament action, and replicate it in meaningful games. Besides the obvious (Connor McDavid, the Domi-Reinhart-Duclair line being on fire, etc) there are a few things that stand out in particular:
- Madison Bowey. The Kelowna Rocket finds himself paired on the blue line in this tournament with returning defenseman Josh Morrissey. Bowey had a big hit to start the play that led to Brayden Point’s goal. This Washington Capitals’ 2013 draft pick is worth a few minutes of your attention for the next few weeks.
- Robby Fabbri. The St Louis Blues prospect is playing on the right wing on a line with Nic Petan and Nick Paul. There was a moment in the second period against Switzerland where Fabbri had a phenomenal shift, throwing his 5’10" body around with a solid hit, before drawing tripping penalty. Max Domi would then score his first of the night on that powerplay, putting Canada up 2-0, and starting a 53 second sequence that resulted in three pucks behind Ludovic Waeber, which would ultimately seal the game’s outcome.
- The players aren’t thinking about the medal drought. Back to back fourth place finishes, and five straight gold medal shutouts aren’t factors weighing on these kids. Head coach Benoit Groulx has these kids focussed on the task at hand, and that is to win each game and strive for gold.
- Captain and Ottawa Senator Curtis Lazar is a talented right winger, a wonderful person with a great attitude, and an excellent leader. Oh, and he went over the dollar limit on his Secret Santa gift for a teammate. Because of course.
- Seven players on Canada’s roster are returnees from last year’s tournament in Malmo, Sweden. The veteran presence and leadership that Zach Fucale, Josh Morrissey, Sam Reinhart, Connor McDavid, Nic Petan, Frederik Gauthier and Curtis Lazar bring to this team should help keep the team grounded in what will likely be some emotional games at home representing their hockey crazed country.
- Benoit Groulx admitted to growing up as a Bruins fan. Have at him, Habs nation.