TORONTO, Ont. – Mario Lemieux. Simon Gagné. Brayden Schenn.
Taylor Raddysh (Caledon, Ont/Erie, OHL) joined some elite company with Canada’s National Junior Team on Thursday night when he became the fourth player in team history to score four times in one game.
Canada easily beat Latvia 10-2 and now sits at 3-0. Its New Year’s Eve showdown with the equally undefeated United States will determine top spot in Group B at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Raddysh also added an assist for good measure.
Sixteen players picked up at least one point for Canada.
Despite the win, one thing the team can’t be happy about was the number of penalties – five – that it took in the first. Yet even though it spent half the period with a player in the penalty box, the team still took a 3-0 lead to the first intermission.
Mathew Barzal (Coquitlam, B.C./Seattle, WHL) opened the scoring 15 seconds after serving a cross-checking minor, picking up the puck at centre ice and taking it on a breakaway before finishing high with a backhand.
Just 1:16 later Philippe Myers’ (Moncton, N.B./Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL) point shot was deflected in front by Nicolas Roy (Amos, Que./Chicoutimi, QMJHL) to make it 2-0.
With 20 seconds left in the period, Raddysh took a short pass from Thomas Chabot (Sainte-Marie-de-Beauce, Que./Saint John, QMJHL) and flicked in a forehand.
A five-goal second period turned the game into a runaway.
Raddysh finished a feed from Dylan Strome (Mississauga, Ont./Erie, OHL) to score in the low slot on the power play midway through the period.
After Latvia switched goaltenders – Gustavs Grigals in for Mareks Mitens – Canada scored four times in 2:43.
Raddysh finished the natural hat trick when he redirected in Kale Clague’s (Lloydminster, Alta./Brandon, WHL) point shot. From the left circle, Barzal went low glove side. Anthony Cirelli (Woodbridge, Ont./Oshawa, OHL) found the back of the net after a couple chances in front. And Michael McLeod (Mississauga, Ont./Mississauga, OHL) cleaned up a rebound by backhanding it into an open net.
Renars Krastenberg finally got Latvia on the board, going far side from the left circle for a shorthanded goal.
Canada scored two more times in the third period. Raddysh tipped in a shot from Noah Juulsen (Abbotsford, B.C./Everett, WHL), and Julien Gauthier (Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que./Val-d’Or, QMJHL) finished off a nice passing play with Pierre-Luc Dubois (Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Que./Cape Breton, QMJHL) and Strome.
In between Martins Dzierkals went backhand from in close for Latvia’s second goal.
Goaltender Carter Hart (Sherwood Park, Alta./Everett, WHL) made 23 saves in his second win.