EDMONTON – Team Canada players promised not to take Latvia lightly. “You have to have the mentality of playing against good teams right away,” explained Joshua Roy after what turned out to be a more complicated first test than expected as the curtain rose at the Junior World Cup.
The vision of the Canadiens looked almost like a prophecy on ice at Rogers Place Wednesday night. In front of bare stands, the local favorites struggled to distance themselves from a much weaker opponent on paper and eventually signed a 5-2 win.
Before even talking about the performances of his men, manager Dave Cameron was quick to give the hat to his opponents after the game.
“They gave a solid collective performance. They didn’t cheat on the defensive and their goalkeeper made some tough saves. A manager will never say he is completely satisfied after a match, but considering the time of year we are in and the fact that the tournament has just started, we will make it. “
“They are a good team, Connor Bedard also pointed out. They didn’t give up, they played smart. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. “
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Bedard (1-1) and Mason McTavish (0-2) completed the match with two points each. Lukas Cormier and William Dufour were the QMJHL representatives who took part in the scoring. Olen Zellweger and Ridley Grieg were the other scorers of the winners.
“We saw it yesterday against Finland, they gave a good opposition and that’s what they did today too,” said Dufour. They are a good hockey team and they still gave us a hard time, that’s for sure, but we played better than them and we took advantage of our great opportunities to score. We come out with victory, it was all we wanted. “
An announced crowd of 2,779 spectators filled the stands at the Oilers’ home for the home team’s opening game. In a rather gloomy start to the match, Bedard brought the point to life by opening his counterattack in the eighth minute. Having inherited the puck in the central zone, the young Canadian sensational took advantage of the space between the two defenders he was challenging to let go of a shot on his wrist because he has the secret.
Bedard was picking up where he left off when the tournament’s first iteration was canceled in December. He then set the mood by scoring four goals in the final victory against Austria.
Before the end of the first half, the Latvians drew the game. With a 2-on-2 run, Rainers Darzins branched off to his left and beat Sebastian Cossa with a high shot to the side of the blocker. Although the shooting streak gave the Canadians a 17-3 lead after 20 minutes of play, the underdogs would not let themselves be trampled.
Maple Leaf was granted a first power play early in the second period, but it was the attackers who turned out to be the most threatening during this window. Kent Johnson nearly pushed a throw-in from his goalkeeper into the back of his goal, then Raimond Vitlins closed the door in his face on the break.
“For a while, I think we sat on our laurels a little too much at 5v5, Cameron didn’t hide. We thought it would be easy and it also affected our power play. “
Ultimately, the quarterback of both waves of Canadian power play helped bring the favorites forward. New Brunswicker Cormier first hit the ropes with a veiled shot, a goal on which Joshua Roy collected his first point of the tournament. Zellweger followed suit with a similar proposal five minutes later.
This double in the special teams seemed for a moment to bring down the persevering Latvians. Greig made it 4-1 before the end of the midframe by pushing the puck between goalkeeper Patriks Berzins’ pads with one hand on the break.
Four minor penalties awarded to Canada in the third period, however, brought the Bordeaux back into play. They closed the gap on a Bogdans Hodass lead and controlled most of the action until Dufour killed their comeback dreams with about five minutes left in the clock.
Entered into morning lineup after spending the previous days in a reserve role, potential Canadian candidate Riley Kidney finished the match with just six ice appearances and a 4:26 playing time. However, he found a way to have a good chance to score on a nice pass from Nathan Gaucher in the third period.
Canada will play their second Italian round on Thursday against Slovakia.
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