TORONTO – For the second night in as many games Canada won an exhibition game in preparation for the U20 tournament which begins in earnest on Boxing Day. On Tuesday night, the Canadians beat Sweden, 4-1, at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto in a game that was anything but routine. Last night Canada beat Switzerland, 8-0, in Oshawa, Ontario.
Both teams play a final tune-up on Thursday, Canada hosting the Finns in Kitchener while Sweden plays Switzerland in St. Catharines.
Tonight’s game was the same as last night for Canada in that all four lines played well. Last night, eight different players contributed goals; tonight, all four goals were scored by different players. Incredibly, no player has scored even twice among those dozen goals to date. Brayden Schenn, Zach Kassian, Ryan Johansen, and Cody Eakin scored for Canada while Max Friberg scored the lone Swedish goal midway through the third period.
The game’s outcome was decided largely by the first period when the Swedes matched Canada hit for hit and outchanced the home side badly, but it was Schenn who got the only goal. Quintin Howden set up Schenn nicely by using the boards for a pass at his own blue line, and Schenn made a nice toe drag move before beating Lehner under the glove at 7:32.
Canada got going in the second and again recorded the only goal courtesy of Kassian on a two-man advantage, but Friberg made it a 2-1 game in the final period when his long shot eluded Olivier Roy who had played very well to that point. Any possible rally was snuffed out by Johansen’s goal with 4:05 to go, and Eakin added a final score into the empty net.
Mark Visentin played the full game last night and recorded the shutout against Switzerland, giving coach Dave Cameron something to think about when the time comes to choose a number-one goalie.
Sweden’s coach Roger Ronnberg went with Robin Lehner in goal for the first 40 minutes before using Fredrik Petterson Wentzel for the final 20 minutes. The team that played tonight was pretty much the final roster, but it was at a disadvantage because ten players were missing equipment form the flight overseas and had to buy new equipment for the game.
Two Swedes were given misconduct penalties during the game. Johan Larsson got one for a hit to the head of Howden as he was following through on a shot in the second period, and Jesper Fast received the other in the final period for hitting from behind. In all, Sweden incurred 12 of 16 penalties called. The Swedes did an excellent job on the penalty killing while Canada’s paltry output of one goal in nine power-play chances underscores its need to improve offense when the situation presents itself.
The Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, Russia and Slovakia hold their camps in the U.S. Because the Germans and Norwegians had bad luck waiting for their luggage, two exhibition games in Jamestown and Rochester had to be postponed by one day. The U.S. lost their first international exhibition game 3-2 in a shootout to the Czech Republic.
Click here for a schedule and scores from games leading up to the World U20 Championship.