After Team Canada was forced to eat humble pie as a Czech Boxing Day treat, a bounce back win was both wanted and needed on Wednesday evening against Germany.
Head coach Dennis Williams scratched his head and gave his lines a proper shuffle. Team captain Shane Wright received a new right-winger in Edmonton native Dylan Guenther. Meanwhile, presumptive 2023 first overall selection Connor Bedard was demoted to the second line, where he would go on to play alongside Habs prospect Joshua Roy and Cole Caufield wannabe (in terms of height, nothing else) Logan Stankoven.
Benjamin Gaudreau got the nod to start in net against Czechia, but was pulled after saving just 12 out of 17 shots. His replacement, Seattle Thunderbirds’ Thomas Milic kept a clean sheet for the remainder of the night, naturally giving him the edge to be the starter against The Germans.
Speaking of the opponents from central Europe, Germany started their tournament off quite strong, losing by just the odd goal to a Swedish team which just 24 hours earlier had scored double digits on Vinzenz Rohrer’s Austria.
Special chef’s kiss goes out to netminder Nikita Quapp, who saved 43(!) shots, only getting beat when Habs prospect Adam Engström launched something wobbly from the centre of the ice near the end of the first period.
Considering his senses working overtime less than 30 hours earlier, it made sense for German coach Tobias Abstreiter to use the Canada game to try out his other options. Quapp deservedly got a day off while Red Bull junior Simon Wolf took his spot in between the pipes.
Canada started off well. Two early German penalties gave the home side plenty of time to establish pressure on Wolf and his defence. While Arizona Coyotes 2022 second-round pick Julian Lutz spent time in the box for a slash, the Coyotes 2021 first-round pick Dylan Guenther opened the scoring after excellent build-up play by Bedard and Olen Zellweger (no apparent relation to American actress Renée).
Germany looked to have no response to the Canadian pressure. A second puck found the net but was blown dead and ruled out by the referees. Minutes later, on one of the few occasions where the German team actually maintained possession into the attacking zone, they managed to squeeze a puck past Milic and find the net.
In the end, hockey is an easy game; nobody cares how many shots you put on net if they don’t go in. By this time in the game, Germany had only tried Milic three times, but it was all of a sudden back to an even score.
Thankfully, Lutz continued to give Canada opportunities. Soon after the game-tying goal, he took his second penalty of the night, ultimately handing the fourth overall selection in the 2022 NHL Draft the chance to score his second goal in as many games and put his team back in front.
Naturally, Connor Bedard didn’t want Wright to just walk away with a potential scoring title unchallenged. Thus, he scored 3-1 before the end of the opening period after terrific defensive forechecking by Joshua Roy, who effectively started a chance out of nothing.
Bedard was a absolutely amazing! The kid can snipe! pic.twitter.com/li3hGkAFpx— ProjectedLineups.com (@ProjectedLineup) December 29, 2022
A minute into the second, Bedard was basically gifted his second goal of the night. A classic example of lacking communication gave the 17-year old phenom an open net, which he naturally used to his advantage, putting yet another dent in the German hopes of a miraculous comeback.
Do you think young Connor felt like he was done after scoring two goals? No Sir. Before period two was over, Bedard had completed his hat-trick and move into the comfortable position of being the tournament’s sole leading goal scorer.
THERE’S THE HATTY pic.twitter.com/FULQub4KP3— Spittin' Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) December 29, 2022
When Rayan Bettahar subsequently was ejected from the game for checking Bedard’s 2023 Draft teammate Adam Fantilli to the head, things quickly went from really bad to really worse for Wolf and Germany.
6-1 was scored by Guenther, once again assisted by Bedard and Zellweger. Before both the period and the five minute major penalty was over, Canada had scored three(!) additional goals, putting them into a 9-1-lead with 20 minutes left on the game clock.
Guenther got himself a hat-trick, while Brandt Clarke and Stankoven scored their opening goals of the championship.
After conceding nine goals in 39 shots, HC Abstreiter had seen enough of his Wolf and replaced his young goalie with semi-Latvian Rihards Babulis from intriguingly named club EC Bad Nauheim.
Babulis went on to concede his very first shot on net, and then there were ten. After Zach Ostapchuk had opened his scoring account, the Canadiens own talisman decided he had seen enough of the other guys celebrating. Joshua Roy elegantly skated into the slot and fired a snap shot which had Babulis fooled yet again.
Joshua Roy finds the back of the net as Canada's lead grows to 10!— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 29, 2022
With an assist on the play, Connor Bedard has now tied a Canadian tournament record for points in a game with 7!#WorldJuniors pic.twitter.com/dAaz9Qzd0s
Before the night was over, the demolished Europeans would get one last chance to celebrate ever so gently. Phillip Sinn managed to double Germany’s scoring tally, making the final result 11-2 for Team Canada.
Killing a game after just 25 minutes is naturally a positive when you’re meant to play several games back-to-back. With Canada facing off the same time again tomorrow, this was a welcome sight for everything from coaching staff to players and fans.
Tomorrow, Connor Bedard, Joshua Roy and the rest will face Vinzenz Rohrer and his Austrian teammates. If everything goes according to plan, the puck will drop around 6.30 PM ET.