Team Canada kicked off their rescheduled 2022 World Juniors with a 5-2 victory over Latvia. The Canadians dominated early and were aided by a three-goal second period for their first win of the tournament. Ten players picked up at least a point, with three posting multi-point games. In net, Sebastian Cossa held down the fort with 22 saves for the victory.
This Bedard Kid Is Good
Much like during the original tournament back in December, Connor Bedard stole the show. He scored Canada’s first goal of the tournament, had an assist on the game-winner and led all players with eight shots. While it may not have been as dominant as his four-goal game versus Austria during the originally scheduled tournament, it was certainly a night to remember for the recently turned 17-year-old and projected number one pick in the 2023 NHL Draft.
Bedard had a phenomenal game statistically but watching his confidence with and without the puck showed everyone why he is a contender to be part of the tournament All-Star team at the end. His physical game really stuck out too, as he was not afraid to throw hits and stand up for himself when he took a hit. He is going to have a target on his back all tournament long, so his ability to match the physical pressure being applied to him will be crucial. If today’s game was any indication, fans could be in for a treat every time he steps on the ice.
Canada Comes to Life in the Second Period
While the Canadians were strong in the first period outshooting Latvia 18-4, their best period was arguably the second. They scored three goals in the middle frame on 12 shots and showed why their power play will be one of the best in the tournament going two for three in the period. During the second, they were also able to limit Latvia’s scoring chances with Cossa stopping all five shots he faced.
The most important aspect of the second period was the power play. Special teams make or break the tournament for most teams, so Canada coming out of the gate quickly should help them gain momentum later on. The other silver lining was that both units scored, with defencemen Lukas Cormier and Olen Zellweger scoring the goals. They were able to score thanks to strong puck movement around the offensive zone while also blocking the sightlines of Latvian goaltender Patriks Berzins leading to the goals. If Canada can continue their success on the power play moving forward, it could lead them straight to a gold medal.
Outside of the power play, one player that really impressed was Ridly Greig. The Ottawa Senators prospect was dominant in the faceoff dot and scored what could be the goal of the tournament to extend Canada’s lead to 4-1 late in the period. He was named Player of the Game for Team Canada and should play a key part in the team’s success in a matchup role for the rest of the tournament.
March to the Penalty Box a Problem
The only issue that came out of this game was Canada’s penalty troubles in the third, as they took four straight in the first ten minutes of the final frame, which cost them on the scoresheet as Latvia was able to score a power play goal. They were also lucky as Mason McTavish’s boarding penalty early in the period was originally called a five-minute major, but was later reduced to a minor penalty after video review.
What the third period really showed is that Team Canada felt they could sit back and cruise the rest of the game. They do play Slovakia tomorrow so there may have been some players with eyes focused ahead, but that mentality could have cost the team if Latvia started to get on a roll late in the game. This is an area the coaching staff led by Dave Cameron needs to look into before their game tomorrow.
Next Up for Team Canada
Canada hits the ice next on Aug. 11, 2022, versus Slovakia. Team Slovakia is coming off an emotional 5-4 loss to Czechia and will be looking to spoil the party for the home team. The puck drops at 6 pm ET on NHL Network in the United States and TSN in Canada.
|Team Canada||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team USA||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Austria||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Czechia||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Finland||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Germany||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Sweden||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Switzerland||Players to Watch||Roster|
All Your THW 2022 World Junior Championship Coverage
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.