Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Canada moves to 2-0

Colton Point, making his Team Canada debut, stopped 20 mostly harmless shots to record the shutout. 
Jonah Gadjovich had two goals while Jordan Kyrou had a goal and two assists to take over the tournament scoring lead with four points.
"I thought that we got better as the game went on," Gadjovich remarked, "and I think we’ve gotten better every period. We’re doing well in building our game, and I thought I did well contributing in all areas of the ice. It’s special. You watch guys from the past who have scored, and it means a lot to help our country."
Steel agreed. "We’re building. Each and every period, we want to get better. We didn’t have quite the effort we wanted yesterday, but I thought tonight we got better every period. We’re going in the right direction."
The result couldn’t have been a surprise given that Canada has never lost to Slovakia in 20 years of U20 play. The record is now 12 wins and a tie, and that small sign of life from Slovakia was only a scoreless draw in 1998.
Canada now has two days off to prepare for its monumental showdown with the U.S., outdoors at New Era Field. The Slovaks play those same Americans tomorrow night, indoors, at Key Bank Center.
Tonight, Canada showed great speed and puck pursuit, using superior tenacity and strength to claim most of the loose pucks and maintain possession.
Steel’s opening marker came off a deflected pass in the slot. The puck wound up on his stick with goalie David Hrenak looking for a shot the other way. Steel had an open net, which he hit, at 3:39.
There was a scary moment midway through the period when Canadian defenceman Jake Bean went back for a puck on the end boards. He got tangled up with Slovakian forward Marian Studenic. The pair crashed into the boards, Bean’s head absorbing most of the force. After several minutes he left of his own accord but didn’t return for the rest of the period as a cautionary measure.
Canada poured it on in the second. Kyrou made a sneaky deke on Erik Smolka in the slot before beating Hrenak with a nice shot at 1:24 on the power play, and Gadjovich backhanded a juicy rebound into the net to make it 3-0 at 5:43. 
Taylor Raddysh got to another rebound at 10:33 to put the game out of reach, frustrating the Slovak goaltender who didn’t get much help from his defence.
Raddysh and Gadjovich closed out the scoring late in the third off great plays. In the former, Adam Ruzicka lost the puck deep in his end, and Raddysh colected the loose puck and roofed a backhand to the short side over Hrenak's glove for a gem of a score.
Then Michael McLeod made a great backhand saucer pass from the left wing boards which Gadjovich tipped high from in front at 18:30 to make it 6-0. Game, set, match.
"I went in and did my best," said Hrenak, whose only previous IIHF experience was one game in the 2016 U18. "I think I didn’t play badly, but a couple of goals I gave up were not too good. Now we have to forget about this game and focus on the game we’re playing tomorrow. I think that’s the most important thing we have to do."

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