Just 18 hours ago team Canada hit the ice for their first game in the World Junior Championship tournament. They started out strong, defeating the Czech Republic 3-0 with Jonathan Bernier earning the shutout and player of the game honors.
Team Canada also set a record in that win—it was their 19th straight World Junior victory dating back to the coaching days of Brent Sutter.
During their next game against Slovakia, Steve Mason didn’t see as much action as Bernier, but he stood just as strong between the pipes stopping all 22 shots for Team Canada recording the second shut out of the tournament between the two goaltenders. It now seems that these goaltenders are competing against each other for the number one position through the rest of the IIHF tournament.
Up to this point Team Canada has not let an even strength goal in 375 minutes, dating back to past World Junior tournaments.
In the game against the Czechs it was the story of the 17 year olds as Tavares had two goals and Steven Stamkos assisted on all three goals for Team Canada. In today’s match up against Slovakia it was Kyle Turris stealing the show helping his team to a 2-0 victory.
Turris is currently playing for the University of Wisconsin, but in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Wayne Gretzky and the Phoenix Coyotes selected him third overall. Gretzky certainly had reason to be proud of his future NHL star, as Kyle Turris had a huge game for Canada netting both goals on the powerplay past Slovakian goaltender Julius Hudacek. Turris was also named the Canadian player of the game.
At this point in the tournament one thing stands out like it has throughout past tournaments is the referring. Even though the IIHF has added a second referee to each international game, it doesn’t seem to have improved anything as we have seen many bogus calls being made against all teams. Slovakia was the team in this matchup that seemed to take the brunt of most of these bad calls.
Canada came into this tournament knowing it would be refereed differently from when they play with their respective teams back home. It seems like no matter how much head coach Craig Hartsburg drills into the juniors' heads, there are still way to many penalties being taken by Team Canada. Today they took a total of six penalties—three less then their previous game, but still could be less.
Team Canada will now have Thursday off but surely Hartsburg will be putting his national team through a strenuous practice as there are a few things they could be doing better. This break will also give both goaltenders some time to rest, as well as Brandon Sutter who seems to be suffering from an upper body injury but is still out on the ice shift after shift.
Team Canada’s next game will be against Sweden, a team that also beat Slovakia in their tournament opener. They will be playing their second game Friday against Denmark.