Canada's Quinton Byfield led the way with two goals and four assists in a 10-0 victory over Switzerland at the 2021 World Juniors on Tuesday. The host nation has won three straight games, while the Swiss suffered their third straight loss.
Byfield, drafted second overall by the L.A. Kings this year, is one of six returning players from Canada's 2020 gold-medal team. The 18-year-old power forward didn't score a goal at that tournament and was happy to break his personal drought.
"I think it was definitely a big relief," said Byfield. "Not getting a goal last year definitely hurt a little bit. But you know, I wouldn't trade that back for anything. I still came out with the gold medal."
Coach Andre Tourigny’s power play converted three times, as Canada just had too much skill, speed, and power for its opponents.
Canadian goalie Devon Levi got his first shutout, while Switzerland’s Noah Patenaude made his World Junior debut in net. Shots favoured Canada 52-15.
The Canadians face Finland on New Year’s Eve in a showdown for first place in Group A. The Finns won gold in 2019 and Canada topped the podium in 2020.
In order to make the quarter-finals, coach Marco Bayer’s Swiss boys must defeat Germany in regulation time in their final preliminary-round game on Wednesday. The Germans have two points after edging Slovakia 4-3 in overtime, and can finally ice a full roster after five more players were released from quarantine.
"I think it's going to be a tough game, Game Seven," said Swiss assistant captain Joel Salzgeber. "We have to win [to make] the quarter-final. And I think we have to stick to the plan and do our thing. Then we can beat them. We're positive."
Switzerland, outscored 5-1 through their first two games in Edmonton, entered this game as monumental underdogs. In their 23 previous World Junior meetings with Canada, they secured just one point in a 3-2 shootout loss in Helsinki (29 December, 2015). The Swiss haven’t medaled since 1998’s bronze, and it seems unlikely their drought will end in Edmonton.
Canada got some important players back in the lineup. Defenceman Braden Schneider, after serving a one-game suspension for an illegal hit on Germany’s Jan-Luca Schumacher, slotted back in at the expense of Jordan Spence. Forward Dylan Holloway, who missed the 3-1 win over Slovakia with an upper-body injury, lined up alongside Connor McMichael and Dylan Cozens on the top line.
Philip Tomasino opened the scoring for Canada just 1:30 in. The versatile Oshawa Generals forward whipped a wicked wrister past Patenaude’s blocker from the top of the right faceoff circle for his fourth goal of the tournament.
The Canadians outshot Switzerland 14-3 in the first period, but failed to capitalize with a two-man advantage for 1:12 and took three minors of their own.
"The first goal dragged us a little bit down, but the first period wasn't bad," said Switzerland's Simon Knak.
In the second period, the Canadian offence came alive. At 1:40, Cozens went to the front of the net and banged in a power-play rebound for his fourth of these World Juniors.
At 8:02, Pelletier made it 3-0 on the rush, picking up the rebound from Connor Zary's shot off the end boards and firing a bad-angle shot past Patenaude on the stick side.
Pelletier, who finished with three points as Byfield's linemate, said he was delighted with their chemistry: "He's a big guy, a good skater, a good sniper. For me to play with him, it's an absolute treat."
Converting another rebound, Ryan Suzuki put the defending champs up 4-0 at 13:44 on a man advantage that came after the hosts had hemmed in Switzerland with relentless pressure.
Cozens forced Swiss forward Raymond Fust into a defensive-zone turnover and fed McMichael for Canada's fifth goal at 17:53.
Of Canada's second-period revival, Byfield said: ""We started to play our game again and get back to our structure, and I think the offence just started coming after that."
In the third period, the Canadians remained relentless.
Byfield was perfectly placed in front of Patenaude on the power play to tip Jamie Drysdale's center point shot past the goalie for a 6-0 lead at 5:16. Less than three minutes later, Byfield finished off a sweet cross-ice feed from Jack Quinn.
Cole Perfetti made it 8-0 at 9:09 with a short-side snipe for his first goal of these World Juniors. Kaiden Guhle added another on a one-timer with 6:32 left, and Pelletier popped in a loose puck for his third of the tournament just over two minutes later.
"In the last [two] periods we didn't show up and show some character, and that was a big problem in this game," said Switzerland's Knak ruefully.