Canada skates to confident win
by Andrew Podnieks|17 MAY 2023
Canada started off like gangbusters and coasted to a solid win over Kazakhstan.
photo: Matt Zambonin / IIHF
Canada scored four goals in the first period en route to an easy 5-1 win over Kazakhstan in Group B tonight. The win keeps Canada without a loss (3-1-0-0) and puts them back in first place with 11 points. The loss leaves Kazakhstan with two points (0-1-0-3), in 7th place. 

The game took just over two hours to play and featured only one minor penalty (to Canada). Canada has now won all four meetings between the teams in Men's Worlds history.

Canada outshot the Kazakhs, 40-17, and Lawson Crosue paced the attack with two goals. Joe Veleno and Samuel Blais each had a goal and two helpers. Defender Mackenzie Weegar had a goal and an assist and now leads the tournament with eight points in four games.

"We had to have a really good start," said Canada's captain, Tyler Toffoli. "Anything can happen in a tournament like this, so I thought we did a really good job getting the momentum on our side right away, and we kept it the rest of the way. We’re trying to build our game, trying to score. We definitely had some good looks, but their goalie made some good saves."

"It’s nice to play against teams with these guys because when I was a kid, I played in NHL Milan Lucic and now I was on the same ice as him," enthused Batyrlan Muratov of Kazakhstan. "We have to be ready for the first period because we fell behind quickly again. We played well in the second and third periods. We have to talk about that because in the future some very big games for us, so we have to be ready for the start."

Indeed, the Canadians wasted no time taking control. Just 19 seconds after the puck was dropped defender Mackenzie Weegar got the puck in the high slot and made no mistake, drilling a shot over the glove of Nikita Boyarkin. Less than five minutes later, in was 2-0 courtesy of a close-in chance. Weegar dished off to Crouse, and he tapped it in at 5:05.

Then, at 7:50 Crouse got his second, this off a pass from Scott Laughton. Kazakhstan got one back on an improbable rush. Adil Beketayev drove down the left side and with no other options and nothing to lose fired a bad-angle shot on goal. The puck went off the shoulder of the crouching Joel Hofer and in, to make it a 3-1 game.

Hofer was making his senior debut after rolling to a 5-0 record at the 2020 World Juniors, a gold medal run for Canada.

Weegar had another great chance to score later in the period, but his hard shot from in front smacked off the crossbar. At the other end, Mikhail Rakhmanov showed some good speed to create a breakaway, but he fanned on his shot.

Canada added a fourth goal with 37.6 seconds remaining in the first off a fine play by Samuel Blais. He stripped Danil Butenko of the puck to the side of the Kazakh goal and fed off to Veleno. He made no mistake, firing high over the glove again.

The Kazakhs settled down in the second and Canada took its collective foot off the gas, producing a surprisingly tame and eventless 20 minutes. Canada had more of the puck and the play but didn’t get to the dirty areas in front of Boyarkin or test him to any great degree, and Hofer was similarly inactive.

Canada came out with more determination in the third, playing more in the Kazakhstan end. They were rewarded early on, scoring a fifth goal at 1:55. Boyarkin made a fine stop off an initial shot from Veleno, but the puck came right back to Blais, who hit the open net.
Canada vs Kazakhstan - 2023 IIHF WM