Goooooood afternoon hockey fans!
It's Boxing Day, which always means the start of the IIHF World Juniors Tournament. Taking place in Helsinki, Finland, the worlds best junior hockey players converged to defend their country's legacy at the biggest Boxing Day event in hockey. Team Canada took on Team USA in this years Boxing Day game. The score didn't predict the atmosphere of the game as I thought it was a lot closer than the 4-2 loss for Team Canada.
Calgary Flames prospect Mason McDonald was in net and another Flames prospect Brandon Hickey was on defense. Team Canada came out strong in the first period. The puck was dropped and Canada skated right into USA territory to take the first shot on net. There was a lot of back and forth play in both zones, but Canada was the more dominant team during the first 20 minutes. When Team USA took a five minute penalty to end the first, Canada couldn't capitalize in the first half of the power play, but they had another two and a half minutes of power play time to start the middle frame. It looked to be a promising game as the first period ended and there was still no score.
With over 2 minutes left in the USA penalty, Canada squandered the power play and couldn't catch the lead. But, soon after, Mathew Barzal opened the scoring to give Team Canada the lead when the USA goalie was far out of position. There was a quick timeout and then the American team came back to put pressure on the Canadian net. McDonald was put to the test and stood tall, making key saves to keep his team afloat. Team Canada started to look a little messy and gave the USA a few chances on net, which resulted in a goal by the opposition to tie the game a 1-1.
When Team USA sold a penalty call to the refs, they scored on the power play and Canada fell behind by one. But in a quick makeup call, Team Canada capitalized and tied the game at 2-2. And that's when the Canadian team fell apart and the game was lost. Team USA out-worked the Canadians and scored on McDonald to give them a one goal lead. Before the buzzer, they'd score again and give them a 4-2 win over Team Canada.
Colin White was player of the game for Team USA and Dylan Strome was player of the game for Team Canada. Mason McDonald was solid all game, except for the last few minutes when the US capitalized on his weaknesses and won the game. The power play seems to be a weak spot for Canada as well. When handed a 5 minute power play, a team needs to score. I think they need to work on that before the next game.
Team Canada takes on Denmark on Monday, December 28th at 11:00am MST.