After starting the 2021 IIHF World Championship 0-3 for the first time in national team history, Canada desperately needed a spark heading into Wednesday’s game against Norway. As it turns out, the catalyst that jumpstarted a sputtering offence had been quarantining inside a Riga, Latvia hotel room for six days – itching to make his debut for Team Canada.
Canada Finally Got the Hot Start They Needed
Canadian head coach Gerard Gallant slotted Andrew Mangiapane on the first line with Adam Henrique and Connor Brown and the top unit wasted no time, only needing 22 seconds to score and secure Canada’s first lead of the tournament. Potting an early marker must have been a huge relief for the underperforming Canadian squad, who had outshot their opponent in each of their first three games, but had only found the back of the net twice. The addition of the speedy Mangiapane couldn’t have come at a better time, as the team found themselves in a must-win situation to try and secure a spot in the quarterfinals.
Mangiapane drove the play whenever he stepped on the ice and provided a much-needed infusion of pace to Canada’s game. In the first two periods, no. 88’s line was a factor in every facet of the game, scoring the first two goals of the night. The smooth-skating forward also drew two slashing penalties while he cycled the puck deep in Norway’s zone.
But it wasn’t all good news for the 25-year-old winger. A couple of sloppy passes were intercepted in the defensive zone which led to Norway scoring two goals just 80 seconds apart. Suddenly, a game that was dominated by Canada was squared up at two a side. Instead of letting that bring him down, Mangiapane made up for it with a highlight reel shot to score the game-winner.
Canada got into some serious penalty trouble in the third period, which forced them to kill off four consecutive power plays. But, that didn’t stop Henrique from scoring a nifty shorthanded goal to seal the deal with a 4-2 final score that flattered the Norwegians. The Canadians handily outshot their opponent 42-15 and it could have been a much larger margin of victory if not for the heroics of Norway netminder Henrik Haukeland.
After the game, Mangiapane spoke with TSN about his first ever foray into major international hockey, resting up in quarantine and finding immediate chemistry with his linemates, who combined for seven points:
“They’re two smart players, right? So they’re very easy to play with. They’re both good at creating space and knowing when to make the pass and when to shoot the puck. They’re easy to play with, so easy to build that chemistry early on.”Andrew Mangiapane
Mangiapane Can Build on Team Canada Experience
Mangiapane is coming off a career year for the Calgary Flames, potting 18 goals and 14 assists in 56 games. While he may have finished second in goals, the 5-foot-10 winger was the team’s most consistent player at even strength, scoring the same number of 5v5 markers as David Pasternak, Mark Stone, Brayden Point and Alex Ovechkin. While his final few games playing for the Flames were meaningless in the standings, he has been dropped directly into a pressure cooker to try and resurrect Canada’s chances of advancing in the tournament. Taking on this important leadership role will help cement his place among Calgary’s core.
There’s a lot at stake for Team Canada. They have never failed to make the elimination round at the World Championship and have never finished worse than 8th (1992), so they now have a tough hill to climb to reach the quarterfinals. With only a handful of players with international experience on the team, this young squad needs to run the table to keep their lengthy streak alive. That starts with their next game against Kazakhstan on the May 28, followed by a tilt against Italy on the 30, and then a tough matchup with Finland on June 1 to wrap up the round-robin.
I don’t think Andrew Mangiapane made the trip to Latvia to be sent home early, so it’s safe to say he’ll continue to be a difference-maker as the boys in red and white try to build on this big win after suffering their worst start in tournament history.
Greg Tysowski is a former broadcast journalist who chose the exciting life of a stay-at-home dad for over a decade. He’s now a published author, parenting blogger and aspiring sports writer covering the Calgary Flames for The Hockey Writers. Greg is also a regular contributor to the weekly roundtable discussion “Flames Faceoff”, now streaming on YouTube and all podcast outlets.