Team Canada Recap: Game 1 – Czechia

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The best under-20 male hockey players from across the world have gathered in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta for everyone’s favourite tournament, the World Junior Hockey Championships.

After a silver medal finish last year, Canada comes into this tournament with questions, specifically regarding roster decisions. Most notably, they left defenceman Brandt Clarke off the camp roster after many would’ve called him a lock to make the team. Clarke was fantastic at the U-18 tournament last spring and has 25 points in 21 games with the OHL’s Barrie Colts this season.

Team Canada opened their tournament against Czechia in Edmonton. These two teams are a part of Group A, along with Germany, Finland and Austria. Group B is made up of USA, Slovakia, Sweden, Russia and Switzerland.

While Canada’s first period was shaking and full of defensive errors, their power play was able to capitalize on chances. After trailing 3-1 in the first, Canada was able to make a full comeback and go on to win the game. Canadian fans were happy to hear “Hey Baby” play in Rogers Place as the team revived it as their goal song for this year’s tournament.

Owen Power led the way for Canada scoring three goals. Mason McTavish, Donovan Sebrango and Olen Zellweger. While Cole Perfetti didn’t score in this one, he left the game with an impressive 3 assists. Czechia’s goals came from Michal Gut, Pavel Novak and Stanislav Svozil.

Canada outshot the Czechs 36-17 with New Jersey Devils prospect, Jakub Malek making 30 saves. Dylan Garand stopped 14 shots for Canada.

Takeaways

Owen Power is an important piece at both ends of the ice

Owen Power plays a calm and controlled game. When the camera panned to him on the bench, he was often seen chewing on a piece of gum, observing the game. After going first overall in the 2021 NHL Draft, Power decided to return to the University of Michigan to play this season. The University did not allow Power the opportunity to play with Canada last year so this is his first experience at the World Juniors.

Power scored three goals for Canada in this game, becoming the first defenceman in Canadian history to score a hat trick at this tournament. Two of Power’s goals came on the power play when Czechia racked up three penalties over the span of 1:08 in the second period.

Power is one of the most important pieces of this team. He stands at 6ft 6 and can move well around the ice. If he continues to contribute offensively while maintaining a strong presence defensively, he will make life miserable for opponents.

Mason McTavish should have had a bigger part in the first overall conversation

Not to take away from Power or Matty Beniers who went second to Seattle but McTavish continues to make a statement for himself. McTavish plays beyond his years and his strength is even more noticeable when playing against his own age group. He uses his skill to drive pucks to the net and create dangerous scoring chances for his team.

He had a stint with the Anaheim Ducks this season before being sent back to the Peterborough Petes of the OHL. In 9 games with the Ducks, McTavish had a goal and 2 assists.

McTavish will be a major part of Canada’s success in this tournament and Ducks fans should be excited about the player he is and the potential he’s already shown in his young career.

Down But Not Out

Last year, Team Canada went all the way to the finals without trailing in the tournament. When they went down against the United States in the gold medal game, they were unable to come back.

Flash forward to this tournament, we are one game in and Canada has already faced adversity. They proved to themselves and fans that they can come back from a deficit and capitalize on the important chances.

An experience like this can improve the team’s mental game. While it is important to know how to protect a lead, it’s also important to have confidence in your team’s ability to change a game and stay competitive even while losing.

Canada will have Monday off and be back at it on Tuesday against Austria. Stay tuned for more recaps and coverage of the World Junior Hockey Championships from Unbenched.

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