Team Canada continues to excel at the World Junior Hockey Championships and remains undefeated in the tournament so far thanks to a 4-1 victory over Finland Monday night.
The game against Finland was Canada’s first real test of the group stage. Finland matched Canada’s speed but weren’t able to withstand the barrage of shots. Canada outshot Finland 36-28, Sam Reinhart scored his first two goals of the tournament and Canadian goalie Fucale made 27 saves.
Revenge is Sweet
Team Canada came into this game looking for revenge against the Fins with the latter having defeated Canada 5-1 in the semi-finals of last year’s tournament. Clearly, this Canadian team has improved since then.
The Canadians did a wonderful job limiting Finland’s time with the puck. As a result, Canada spent much more time in the offensive zone and got the majority of the scoring chances. Guys like Max Domi and Curtis Lazar won key puck battles and cycled the puck around with relative ease causing Finland all kinds of trouble. Domi had a phenomenal game. He set up two goals got back defensively to block shots and kept his composure after taking several cheap shots. Finland’s inability to convert on the powerplay really hurt them in this game.
The biggest advantage Canada has had over these last three games is that every line is contributing goals. Against Finland, Reinhart, Domi and Anthony Duclair stole the show. Against Germany Connor McDavid and his line were the main men. The bottom line is Canada has far more depth within its roster compared to the previous year. This victory against Finland proved that in every way. The challenge for the players now will be to keep that momentum going. The quest for gold isn’t about to get any easier for this team. But playing at home in front of thousands of Canadians has certainly kept the players energized.
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Team Canada’s final game of the group stages will be an even tougher test. Canada faces off against the United States on Wednesday. Both teams remain undefeated so far, which means a victory for Canada would see them top the group A standings. The home crowd will really have to get behind their team in this game.
The key thing for the players will be to keep their composure and continue playing their game. Team USA will look to shut down McDavid and frustrate Domi. This next game will be one of the best of the tournament. This is a classic rivalry in which the victor is usually determined by which team takes the least penalties. I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds this year.