Dec 28, 2011
2012 World Junior Championship
Home Team: Canada
Away Team: Czech Republic
CAN#18 Ryan Strome – Starting to play much better after being pretty average from the start of selection camp. Strome needs to battle for pucks and use the cycle to be at his best. He did that tonight. Strome made a great pass to Brendan Gallagher on the PP early in the game, it would have been an assist if not for Gallagher whiffing on the puck. Strome was also in on the cycle play that led to Canada’s first goal when Huberdeau fed Stone in front of the net. Strome showed off his vision and hands in this game. He buried the puck into the empty net on the play started by Scott Wedgewood’s stretch pass to Freddie Hamilton. Only thing I didn’t like were a few forced shots on a late PP by Canada. A good strong game turned in by Strome.
CAN#30 Scott Wedgewood – If you visit our site often or follow on twitter, you would know that we have been talking about Wedgewood being on this team for over 12 months. Scott got his chance tonight and although he was not tested with too many big saves, he did make some good ones early on. He was strong on the PK, making the stops needed and secondary saves. Wedgewood is a kid that just seems to play better when the games are bigger. He ended up making a play that gave Canada a huge spark when he made a breakaway pass to Freddie Hamilton which led to Canada’s 2nd goal. Wedgewood gets square to pucks and makes some difficult saves look easy. He also excels at recovering quickly to make second and even third saves. Wedgewood might just have taken over the #1 starting gig.
CAN#14 Brett Connolly – Really liked Connolly tonight because he used his size. Early in the game he set the tone for his entire game with a strong play to the net that forced Petr Mrazek to make his first of many big saves. He could have easily scored 3 goals in this one. He missed an empty net when his stick just caught Mrazek’s toe. Connolly scored a beauty goal later in the game when he beat two Czech defenders and followed up his own rebound to bang it home. He made several strong plays winning battles and finishing checks. He took an interference penalty on one hit that was a few steps late. When Connolly is on, he is a huge part of Team Canada.
CAN#6 Scott Harrington – Another standout game for the London Knight defender. I have seen Harrington over 20 times this season and he has been doing exactly what you have seen in the Team Canada uniform. Harrington is at his best when he plays the shutdown game and doesn’t try to do too much on offense. He is smart and uses quick feet to stay with defenders. He won the 1 on 1 battles and has become a force on the PK.
CAN#4 Doug Hamilton – Logged a ton of minutes which he is used to doing. Not his best effort in this game. Some ugly decisions with the puck and got turned around a little bit on a couple 1 on 1’s. He lost his man in coverage on one sequence in his own zone. He might have got away with a late hit that might have been called if not for the fact that there was already a delayed penalty on Canada. Got caught on a pinch which gave up a shorthanded odd man rush, no harm was done. He moved pucks quickly and hit his forwards in stride which is a part of his game he has improved since last season. Hamilton made some bad decisions with the puck on a late PP. He forced a few pucks into traffic. Not a brutal game by any stretch but not his best.
CAN#15 Tanner Pearson – He struggled a bit early in the game with some poor puck protection and weak turnovers on forced passes. He took a lazy hooking penalty as well after turning over the puck. Then out of nowhere Pearson became one of Canada’s best players the rest of the game. He made several hard working plays winning pucks, including the play where he stole the puck from David Musil which led to Canada’s 4th goal. Pearson also setup his Barrie teammate Mark Scheifele on a PP after the 1st PP unit struggled to get much going.
CZECH#2 Petr Mrazek – The star of the game was Mrazek. If not for about 6 huge saves the game would have been out of hand very early. When it was only 1-0 late in the 2nd period it was only because of Mrzazek. Much like Scott Wedgewood, Petr recovers very quickly which enables him to make secondary saves. He sports a good glove which he showed off several times in this game, including robbing Ryan Strome from point blank range. Mrazek will need to be just as good to give his team a chance versus USA and Finland.
Canada came out of the gate flying again in this game. They were turned away by a hot tender early and then got into some penalty trouble which slowed momentum. Guys like Huberdeau were a key. Huberdeau obviously helps the offense but he also chips in doing all the little things. He was great on the forecheck along with Strome who executed it very well. Freddie Hamilton also played another good game, not player of the game good IMO, but solid nonetheless. Freddie seems to be buying into Don Hay’s systems and style and is being rewarded with good minutes including PK time. Freddie has been effective on the PK, although he does make some big turns at times. I’d like to see more straight line skating from all the PK guys. (even though the PK is perfect so far) Jaden Schwartz chipped in with some good PK shifts, but his best is yet to come. He was one of Canada’s best players in the pre-tourney games. Czech NHL Draft prospect Tomas Hertl was very good in yesterday’s game but playing vs Denmark is much different than playing vs Canada. Hertl turned over a bunch of pucks, including the play that led to Brett Connolly’s highlight reel goal.
FINAL SCORE: 5-0 Canada