Team Canada improved their record to 2-1-0-0 at the 2023 World Juniors with a dominant 11-0 victory over Austria. This was the second time the Canadians have scored 11 goals in a game, having beaten Germany 11-2 the night prior. Here are five takeaways from the game.
Connor Bedard Looks Unstoppable
Connor Bedard has looked unstoppable through the first three games of this year’s tournament. He recorded two goals and four assists against Austria and now leads the tournament with 14 points. To put this in perspective, he has the same amount of points as if you combined Sweden’s Ludvig Jansson, Czechia’s Stanislav Svozil and Slovakia’s Peter Repcik’s point totals. All three of these players lead their countries in points which puts into perspective how dominant the 2023 NHL Draft prospect has been so far.
With his two goals, Bedard also tied Jordan Eberle’s Canadian record for most goals at the World Juniors with 14. Both accomplished the feat in 12 games, with the now Seattle Kraken forward participating in the 2009 and 2010 tournaments. Not only should Bedard have the goals record by the end of the tournament, but he is also closing in on Eric Lindros’ Canadian record of 31 points. He is just nine back, and while Canada will be facing tougher competition the rest of the way, do not bet against the 17-year-old as he looks to become the best Canadian player in World Juniors history.
Welcome To The Logan Stankoven Show
Logan Stankoven was named Canada’s best player after scoring a goal and adding three assists versus Austria. It wasn’t just his scoring that was impressive, as he was virtually unbeatable in the faceoff circle going 15 for 17. A returnee to the team from the 2022 World Juniors, he has elevated his game this year and sits second in tournament scoring with seven points through his first three games.
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Playing on a line with Joshua Roy and Bedard, Stankoven has shown just how valuable he is to this Canadian team. Whether it is winning faceoffs or generating offensive chances, he could end up being Canada’s unsung hero by the end of the tournament. Look for him to continue to step up his game and be a difference-maker as he looks for his second gold medal at the World Juniors.
Canada Gets Contributions From Entire Lineup
Scoring 11 goals is impressive, but the fact that 18 of Canada’s 20 skaters recorded a point shows just how strong their team is. Every line was able to get on the scoresheet showing just how balanced a roster the Canadians have assembled. Canada always has a deep lineup at the World Juniors, but few teams in the past have shown the same scoring capabilities that this group has.
The large lead also allowed Canada to once again balance their ice times. No one played over 20 minutes, with Reid Schaefer being the low-minute man at 9:53. By rolling all four lines consistently, the Canadians are resting their top players and building chemistry throughout their lineup. This should come in handy later in the tournament, as the Canadian coaching staff now know they can trust all four lines to get the job done whenever needed.
Relatively Easy Night For Gaudreau
After a difficult start to the tournament, Benjamin Gaudreau bounced back with a 12-save shutout against the Austrians. While he didn’t see a ton of shots, he was solid when needed and backstopped Canada to a win. As mentioned, it was not a tough night for the San Jose Sharks prospect but one he will remember for a long time.
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The question going forward now is, who does Canada start in the net? Does the fact Gaudreau had a shutout last night make him the starter or was his performance against Czechia enough to convince the coaching staff to go with Thomas Milic during the quarterfinals? Regardless, his start against Austria was solid, and he deserves some credit for being able to bounce back after a tough opening night.
Canadian Special Teams Stays Sharp
Team Canada once again flexed their power play muscles, going three for three on the night. Both units were able to score, with Dylan Guenther, Shane Wright and Adam Fantilli recording the goals. To show just how good Canada’s power play has been, their 11 goals with the man advantage are more than Finland has total and greater than the combined totals for Switzerland, Germany and Austria throughout the tournament. They have a power play goal in each of their three games and will need to continue their strong play against Sweden, who have yet to give up one.
As for Canada’s penalty kill, they finally were able to keep the opposition off the board, killing off both penalties in the third period. This was a good morale boost for the penalty-killing units as they were able to prevent any high-danger scoring chances and clear the puck with ease. Their perfect special teams night was a great accomplishment, but Canada must be ready for tougher competition as the tournament progresses.
Big Test Versus Sweden
The Canadians will finish up their group play against Sweden on New Year’s Eve. This game will have massive implications as it could be the difference between finishing first or third in the group. A regulation win will be crucial, as if they lose to the Swedes, it could mean a first-round matchup with either the USA or Finland.