REGINA – Peter Forsberg's record of 31 points in seven games at the 1993 World Juniors has long been regarded as unbeatable. But that just might change at this year's tournament, based on some early offensive explosions.
On Day One, Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson got the party started with a goal and four assists in Sweden's 10-1 romp over the Czechs.
Canada's Gabriel Bourque really upped the ante when he tallied seven points (a hat trick and four assists) in a 16-0 pounding of Latvia. That tied the Canadian single-game record: Dave Andreychuk (1983) had identical numbers in a 13-0 win over Norway, and Mike Cammalleri repeated the feat in a 15-0 waxing of France (2001).
Brandon Kozun, the WHL scoring leader with 63 points for the Calgary Hitmen, also picked up five points versus Latvia.
Point is, this looks like it could be one high-scoring tournament.
Bourque, in particular, is well-placed to chase Forsberg's record because Canada could put up big numbers against the rest of its Group A opponents as well. Switzerland, as a newcomer to the top group, looks particularly vulnerable. The Slovaks didn't even score a goal against Canada in their last two encounters (2007, 2008), and lost 7-3 in 2005. And don't forget that the Canadians racked up seven goals against the Americans in last year's North American showdown on New Year's Eve.
Let's not get too excited, though. Can kids like Bourque keep up their hot first-game pace?
Assuming Canada makes it to the gold medal game, securing a bye into the semi-finals along the way, Bourque would need to score 25 points in his remaining five games to top Forsberg. Five points a game would be a stretch for the shifty 19-year-old Moncton Wildcats forward, who has 38 points in 30 games so far this year in the QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League). Even if Canada wound up in the quarter-finals, more than four points a game would be tough for Bourque too.
If Bourque doesn't score 10 points against Switzerland on Monday (as Forsberg did in a 20-1 rout of Japan in '93), his chances of landing the all-time record get a lot lower, because he'll probably have a quiet game somewhere along the way.
So Forsberg probably isn't losing any sleep over this. The Swedish legend is more concerned with doing his best for Modo in his latest comeback in his native Örnsköldsvik. Not to mention staying healthy enough to wear the Tre Kronor jersey in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.