Kadri Shines in Dominant First Game for Canadian World Junior Team

Jon NeelyAnalyst IDecember 26, 2009

What a way to start.

After beginning the tournament with a 15-0 win last year, they did one better this time around.

It was more of a brisk practice with contact in the first game of the round robin for Canada at the World Hockey Championships. And because goal differential matters as the second tie-breaker, it got ugly very quickly as Canada took on Latvia.

Just 36 seconds in, Gabriel Bourque made it 1-0, and not much else mattered after that. It ended with a 16-0 drubbing of a Latvian team that looked lost from the start, with Canada firing 66 shots on net and outplaying their opponents in every aspect.

It was a true-to-from, good old fashioned Canadian style hockey game. Fast-paced, hard-hitting action from start to finish as they never took their foot off the pedal once in a game (if you can call it that) that showed Canada's dominance once again as they look for their sixth-straight gold medal at the tournament.

A bright spot for the team (okay, so the game was one giant bright spot) was the play of Nazem Kadri who had two goals and a 10-minute misconduct penalty for hitting to the head to boot.

He played on the first line with future first-round pick Taylor Hall, and his Windsor Spitfire teammate Greg Nemisz, and the trio saw significant power play time as well. Kadri had the second and eighth goals on the night. 

Leaf fans will have extra motivation this year for watching the tournament as Kadri looks to make the NHL club next season and play a big offensive role. How he plays between now and the gold medal game will be huge for his confidence; and you know Brian Burke and Co. will be watching too.

Kadri was buzzing around the ice and along with his two goals, his speed was simply too much for the Latvians to handle as was able to draw at least three hooking penalties. He also threw his weight around when he had to, receiving the misconduct penalty on a hit that probably would be legal in the OHL.

All in all, the game was a good way to start off the annual tournament for Canada, though not much of a test. Their next game is Monday against Switzerland followed by a matchup against Slovakia, two games that should have similar outcomes if the team continues their solid play.

A rematch of last year's thriller with the U.S. on New Year's Eve will take place once again on the final night of 2009. It should be the team's first real test.

A great start to a great annual tradition as Canadians watch their favourite future NHLer's, while Leaf fans keep an eye on their favourite future Leaf.