With an 8-0 romping of Slovakia, Canada moved into sole possession of first place in Group A after day one at the World Junior Championship. In other action, Russia outlasted Denmark, USA downed Finland, and Sweden beat up on the Czechs.
It’s hard to say that Canada’s game with Slovakia was really ever in doubt after a first period that included three goals in less than five minutes.
The 8-0 final would seem like it was indicative of the play, but even the score may be undermining what was an absolutely dominant performance in which the Canadian club could have had at least another few tallies. After two periods, the shots on goal were 28-8 and the final tally was 34-12.
While consensus first or second overall pick Connor McDavid didn’t find the scoresheet, Canada got more than enough scoring from other standouts such as Robby Fabbri, Anthony Duclair, Max Domi, and Jake Virtanen. Virtanen, especially, was impressive all night, playing both a physical and a skilled game, including potting Canada’s eighth goal.
As for the highlight of the night, it’s almost impossible to choose between Duclair’s first period goal, a ridiculous show of hands, or Nic Petan potting a goal that he had no business scoring. Both were displays of skill that have been rarely seen in recent years from the Canadian squad.
The entire team played defensively sound hockey, and showed a commitment to both sides of the puck, most notably Domi’s 100-plus foot back check which eventually led to him scoring later in his shift.
While Slovakia isn’t a tough opponent by any means, they’re the kind of team that has, in previous years, had the talent to at least be able to put a scare into Canada. While the Slovaks weren’t extremely impressive tonight, Martin Reway stood out as their best player on the ice and had a few good looks.
In earlier Group A action, the Finns took on Team USA, where two quick first period goals were the only tallies of the 65 minutes of play. In the shootout, the Americans were able to outlast Finland for the victory.
Over in Group B, Russia had an early scare against the Danes, going down 2-0 after the first period thanks to a pair of power play goals by Denmark. However, a late second period tally and third period heroics allowed the Russians to take the game to overtime, which solved nothing, but led to a shootout which the Russians took thanks to two straight goals and consecutive saves by netminder Ilya Sorokin. Meanwhile, the Swedes dominated the Czechs to the tune of a 5-2 final score, putting themselves in great position to clinch the group considering Russia needed extra time to get by Denmark.