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Photo Credit: Toronto Star

CanucksArmy World Junior Recap: Canada 3 – 4 USA

The Friday matinee Buffalo Blizzard Bowl between Canada and the United States. A game that will be remembered for plenty of reasons; for me, all the wrongs ones.

The game was a spectacle, no doubt, but at the expense of player safety for many teams prized possessions and at the expense of the game of hockey itself. The quality of hockey witnessed today by the 40,000 plus at New Era Field, and the thousands tuning in around the world was abysmal. For me, this gimmick has to end soon. Anyways, let’s take a look and what went down this afternoon.

It was quickly apparent that the football stadium wasn’t designed for hosting a hockey game. I’m not sure where they had the camera wells, but it felt like the camera was stuck on zoom in x1000 for the duration of the game. I find it hard to believe this day in age that an alternate primary angle wasn’t possible.

Now to the hockey, USA controlled the play at even strength until the 2:43 mark when Dylan Samberg took a penalty. On the ensuing power-play, Cale Makar walked in front the blueline and unleashed a wicked wrister that beat Jake Oettinger through the five-hole to make it 1-0 Canada.

Not look after that, the Canucks own, Jonah Gadjovich took the first of a few bad penalties taken by the Canadian squad this afternoon. The lack of discipline would ultimately cost Team Canada the game; we’ll see more of that later on.

Unfortunately for Canucks fans, there’s not much to report on Gadjovich from this game as he didn’t see much playing time after the penalty. He finished with one controlled entry, one dump in, two shots on goal and one primary shot attempt assist.

It didn’t take long to realize that not only would the elements play a factor in this important game, but the ice quality as well.

Bad ice, nice pass by Anaheim Ducks, first rounder, Sam Steel to feed Dillon Dube who made no mistake and ripped a wrister over the glove of Oettinger to make it 2-0, Canada.

The rest of the first was fairly uneventful until Canucks prospect, William Lockwood attempted to make a buzzer-beating dash towards the net that would lead to Victor Mete taking a penalty for the slash to the hands. The powerplay would carry over into the second period.

The event did provide some unique imagery, I’ll give it that. When else are you going to see a snow shower of that quality? Only in the great outdoors.

Best Sign, something Team Canada fans can hang their hat on.

You can see the snow really started to fall in between periods. That didn’t slow down Mete, who capitalized on the time of his penalty expiring with a breakaway coming out of the box but was stopped by Oettinger with a critical save.

You can say the hockey was good all you want; it wasn’t.

Again, the snow did make for some fantastic images.

Here’s another bad penalty taken by Canada as Alex Formenton decided he’d give the USA a five-on-three opportunity because he wanted to poke the opponent in the face with his hockey stick.

This is about when Casey Mittelstadt, the Buffalo Sabres, eighth overall pick from the 2017 draft decided he was going to take over the game with an impressive assist from Oettinger. Oettinger pass —> Mittlestadt entry —> Bellows bomb! The USA makes it a one-goal game, trailing 2-1.

To the credit of Team Canada, a minute and twelve seconds later they responded with this goal to quickly regain the two-goal lead. Look at that snow fly as nearly all the players on the ice stop within the crease area. Credit to Jake Bean for throwing the puck at the net into that mayhem which would bank off Boris Katchouk for his second goal and third point of the tournament.

Play by play guys earning their holiday bonus today

Things began to heat up near the end of the second period so I wasn’t surprised one of these teenagers couldn’t contain their emotions with 40,000 fans roaring. I was even less surprised to see that player was cheapshot artist, Maxim Comtois. Without a doubt, this hit should have been five minutes plus a game misconduct, no idea how it wasn’t, to be honest. Lindgren was lucky to skate off under his own power of this hit, and Comtois lucky to remain in the game.

Thanks to Comtois, USA was handed a golden opportunity to cut the lead to one, and they took advantage of it. Scott Perunovich scores on another beautiful feed from Mittelstadt who clearly wasn’t bothered by the elements.

Unfortunately, some more bad news for Canucks fans as William Lockwood crashed into the boards awkwardly. He got up clearly favouring his surgically repaired shoulder, all you can do is hope for the best.

About 30 seconds after drawing within one, the Americans tied the game on yet another sweet dish from Mittelstadt. A performance that will vault him into early tournament MVP consideration. The goal would be scored by 2018 draft eligible, Brady Tkachuk. Tkachuk is one to keep an eye on this year as he’s been ranked as high as third on some draft boards.

The 154 pound, Kailer Yamamoto was clearly fired up who ended regulation time by finishing his check on the unsuspecting Mete. I’m pretty sure this caught everyone by surprise.

Three-on-three overtime outdoors! This is going to be exciting, isn’t it? Well, we saw as much of the ice maintenance crew as we did players on the ice. Primarily because of a labelled danger zone behind one of the nets which led to a lengthy delay because of multiple incidents in the area.

Hope these two made it home alive. A little entertainment during the break!

Nothing was settled in overtime, except this linesman’s grudge against the Tkachuk family.

Shootout

Steel,

Kieffer Bellows – Fivehole goal

Robert Thomas – Stopped

Tkachuk,

Taylor Raddysh – Miss

Casey Mittelstadt – Pokechecked

What a performance from Mittelstadt today, look out! He may take over this tournament if he maintains this calibre of play. Three assists today makes it six points in three games which is good for the tournament lead.

I literally have no idea why he’s on the team.

Observations

  • Kyle Clague played a game-high 26:49 today. I don’t dislike Clague, not at all, but he’s clearly not playing well at the moment, and I’m puzzled as to why Mete or Bean can get more minutes on the left side. This is something to keep an eye on for sure as there’s been minimal tinkering with the lineup, we’ll see if that changes following a loss.
  • Jordan Kyrou continued his strong tournament despite being held off the scoresheet. He had a team-leading, five controlled entries to go with five primary shot attempt assists, both of which were extra rare occurrences.
  • I thought there was progress being made when I saw Makar pencilled as the 6th defenceman as opposed to his usual seven spots. I was fooled, Makar sightings were few and far between today, and I’m beginning to lose hope that we’ll see much more of him. In my books, he’s the best right side defenceman on the team ahead of Foote, Timmins, and Fabbro. When he’s out there, he’s performing well and even scored today. If I could ask the Canadian coaching staff one thing it would be this, how does Cale Makar not start in overtime? Please tell me!