Canada heads outside for its next preliminary round game with a 2-0 record as they prepare to take on the host United States on Friday afternoon in the first outdoor game in IIHF World Junior Championship history.
“It’s about the environment too, not just the ice. We want our guys to feel the ice, the stadium but we don’t want it to become too much of a big thing when we get there. We’ll be short (with practice), but we will prepare our game,” said head coach Dominique Ducharme on how the team is preparing for the outdoor game which will take place at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York, home of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.
On Wednesday, Colton Point (North Bay, Ont./Colgate University, ECAC) backstopped Canada’s National Junior Team to a 6-0 win over Slovakia turning aside 20 shots.
“I felt good, smooth, ready and confident. The guys played great in front of me, they’re unbelievably good at puck management and all things that go into being a good team. They make my job a million times easier. I don’t think I had a back door play once today and every shot I took was in front of me, on my stick and the guys make my job a lot easier than it could be,” said Point.
Captain Dillon Dubé (Cochrane, Alta./Kelowna Rockets, WHL) had one assist while the two other players from B.C., including Penticton Vees alumni Dante Fabbro (Coquitlam, B.C./Boston University, HE) and Cal Foote (Kelowna, B.C./Kelowna Rockets, WHL) did not record any points.
Sam Steel (Sherwood Park, Alta./Regina, WHL) needed just 2:39 to open the scoring, banging in a loose puck after a point shot from Cale Makar (Calgary, Alta./University of Massachusetts, HE) pinballed to the side of the net.
That was it for scoring in the first period despite Canada holding a 13-6 advantage in shots on goal.
The Canadians pulled away in the second, finding the back of the net three times in just over nine minutes to take control.
Jordan Kyrou (Toronto, Ont,/Sarnia, OHL) doubled the lead to 2-0 on the power play, sliding the puck through the legs of a defender before whipping a wrist shot past Slovak netminder David Hrenak only 84 seconds into the middle frame.
“They [Slovakia] gave us a tough ride all game, but we played our game overall and we got better each period. We also wanted to stay out of the box and tonight we were a lot more disciplined,” said Kyrou.
Jonah Gadjovich (Whitby, Ont,/Owen Sound, OHL) tucked in his first of two goals at 5:43, and Taylor Raddysh (Caledon, Ont./Erie, OHL) buried his own rebound from in close on another Canadian man advantage at 10:33 to make it a four-goal lead after 40 minutes.
A pair of late goals capped the scoring in the third period; Maxime Comtois (Longueuil, Que./Victoriaville, QMJHL) jumped on an offensive-zone turnover and roofed a backhand past Hrenak, before Gadjovich redirected a feed from Michael McLeod (Mississauga, Ont./Mississauga, OHL) with 90 seconds left.
“It’s nice to see how the guys are coming together. One of the big things we stress in our room is the small habits; whether it’s angling on pucks or getting sticks on pucks. I think if we stay consistent on those things, we’ll grow as a team and be better moving through the tournament,” said Cale Makar (Calgary, Alta./University of Massachusetts, HE).
Canada faces the U.S. in the outdoor game on Dec. 29 (3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT). The U.S. defeated Belarus 9-0 in their opening game and face Slovakia on Dec. 28.