OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Barrett Hayton (Peterborough, Ont./Arizona, NHL) and Dylan Cozens (Whitehorse, Y.T./Lethbridge, WHL) each scored a goal and set up three others, and Canada’s National Junior Team scored five times on the power play in a 7-2 win over the Czech Republic to wrap up preliminary-round play Tuesday at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.
The victory clinches first place in Group B for the Canadians and sets up a quarter-final match-up with Slovakia on Thursday (9 a.m. ET/6 a.m. PT).
Seven different players scored for Canada, and 10 recorded points. Joe Veleno (Kirkland, Que./Grand Rapids, AHL) finished with a goal and two assists, while Joel Hofer (Winnipeg, Man./Portland, WHL) made 17 saves.
The Canadian power play was the story of the first period, equaling a tournament record with four goals.
Veleno returned to the line-up with a bang, taking a rebound off a Czech leg and beating goaltender Lukas Parik before five minutes had elapsed, and Nolan Foote (Kelowna, B.C./Kelowna, WHL) showed off his shot once again midway through the opening frame, rocketing a one-timer past Parik.
Canada took full control on a five-minute man advantage; Hayton made it 3-0 after a long video review at 13:29, sneaking a shot just across the goal-line, and Connor McMichael (Ajax, Ont./London, OHL) dug the puck out of a scramble in front for the 4-0 goal 61 seconds after that.
Parik exited due to injury after the McMichael goal, giving way to Nick Malik after four goals on nine shots.
After a scoreless opening 11 minutes in the second period, the teams exploded for a record-setting spurt.
Vojtech Strondala got the hosts on the board at 11:10 when he went skate-to-stick and beat Hofer on the power play, and Libor Zabransky snapped a quick shot past the Canadian netminder 14 seconds later to make it a two-goal game.
But Canada responded just 10 seconds after that when a Ty Smith (Lloydminster, Alta./Spokane, WHL) dump-in took a fortuitous bounce in front of the net and onto the stick of Liam Foudy (Scarborough, Ont./London, OHL) to make it 5-2.
The three goals in 24 seconds were the fastest combined three goals in World Juniors history.
Cozens added another man-advantage marker at 12:30, tipping in a shot from Calen Addison (Brandon, Man./Lethbridge, WHL) to send the Canadians to the dressing room with their four-goal lead restored.
Canada guided home the win in the third period, outshooting the Czechs 12-4.
Jared McIsaac (Truro, N.S./Halifax, QMJHL) rounded out the scoring midway through the final stanza, getting a seeing-eye shot from the point through traffic and past Malik.
“The guys are learning, buying in and getting better. We played well defensively and that’s where it all starts. The power play was good and led to some good chances. We need to continue to improve and we’ll need our coaches and all the players to lead the way.”
- Team Canada head coach Dale Hunter (Petrolia, Ont./London, OHL) on what’s ahead
“We are growing as a group. We’ve had a good balance of hard practices, good teambuilding and lots of fun together. Every game now is must-win and we’re all going to have to get better together to keep moving forward.”
- Veleno on keeping the momentum going
“We had lot of power-play opportunities tonight and we were able to capitalize on them. There was good puck movement, guys got their shots through and we were able to finish. We did a good job on the penalty kill as well. Special teams are really important in this tournament and we need to keep improving.”
- Cozens on special teams success