Canada

Canada holds off Switzerland to reach world junior semifinals

EDMONTON—Whether it’s summertime or wintertime, Canada is doing what Canada is supposed to at the world junior hockey championship: win games, advance, and play for a medal.

“A crack at winning a medal would be awesome, and obviously we’re striving for gold,” said forward Logan Stankoven. “It’ll be nice to play in the semifinals.”

Stankoven, of the Kamloops Blazers, had two goals and an assist as Canada beat Switzerland 6-3 on Wednesday night at Rogers Place to advance to Friday’s semifinal

“That’s what our goal was,” Canadian captain Mason McTavish said. “To be in the semis is huge for us. We’re just going to take it game by game. There’s only six periods left, hopefully, if everything goes right in the semis. There’s lots of work still.”

On a team filled with junior scoring stars, Stankoven led the way Wednesday. He is undersized, about five-foot-eight, but the Dallas Stars prospect had 45 goals in 59 games last year and earned his spot with this team.

“(Scoring) is huge,” said Stankoven. “It’s harder than I thought, that’s for sure. The goals haven’t come easy. I’ve had the chances, but not as much as I would have liked. So tonight I was happy I was able to create a few more chances and the puck was kind of going in to the net. So it’s a good feeling.”

Stankoven now has three goals and four assists, tied for second on the team behind McTavish, who has seven goals and seven assists.

“I thought he had a lot of jump,” McTavish said. “He was flying out there. He got a breakaway, 2-on-1 on his first shift. So whenever you see that, you know a guy’s going.”

Stankoven’s line had a good night, too. Tyson Foerster had a goal and an assist. Kent Johnson had an assist.

Jack Thompson, Nathan Gaucher and Will Cuylle also scored for Canada.

Nathan Gaucher, left, Elliot Desnoyers, centre, and Brennan Othmann celebrate one of Canada’s four first-period goals against Switzerland.

Canada was also down a man early as Ridly Greg left the game in the first period with a shoulder injury.

“He’s being evaluated now and we’ll probably know a lot more (today),” Canadian coach Dave Cameron said. “Anytime you have a player on the team that gets hurt, you know that feeling of disappointment and you feel really bad. I hate to say it, but that’s part of the game. He has probably been our best player, too.”

The Swiss, featuring just two NHL draft picks, kept things close, testing Canadian goalie Dylan Garand more than Finland did in the final game of the preliminary round. Undrafted Attillio Biasca scored twice and captain Simon Knak, a Nashville prospect, had the other goal.

Foerster, Thompson, Stankoven and Gaucher all scored in the first 17 minutes, chasing Swiss goalie Noah Patenaude on nine shots. But Knack and Biasca scored in the first period as well and backup goalie Kevin Pasche put in a solid 43 minutes.

McTavish seemed to be having a word with Pasche at one point.

“I thought he was pretty good. I probably didn’t say that to him,” McTavish said. “Just getting along with him.”

Cuylle and Biasca traded goals in the second and Canada led 5-3, but the Swiss proved particularly plucky, creating some dicey moments in the third period, especially after pulling their goalie with 3:16 to go. Stankoven’s empty-netter with 1:09 to go ended the suspense.

“I thought we were choppy,” Cameron said. “I didn’t think we had as much energy. I didn’t think we executed quick enough. I thought we were bringing pucks back rather than going north. It was a dreaded quarterfinal game, playing the team that has absolutely nothing to lose, so give them credit. They came at us, and it made it interesting, but we found a way.”

On paper, it should have been a cakewalk. This was the 25th the two countries at the world juniors. Canada has won all 24 previous games, 23 of them in regulation. Canada had outscored the Swiss 154-40 in those previous 24.

But, really, you never know. That’s why the play the games. It’s a summer event after all, and players understandably are not in mid-season form, which is the norm for the tournament.

Earlier in the day, Latvia gave Sweden a scare. Sweden advanced to Friday’s semifinals with a 2-1 over Latvia, playing a quarterfinal game for the first time in its history. It was a goal by Swedish captain Emil Andrea midway through the third period that won it.

“It was like their own Super Bowl, their first quarterfinals in this tournament,” said Andrea. “So we knew before the game there’s going to be competitive, play hard and try to win. But, we got the win and we move on to the semifinals.”

No team was relegated this year. The same 10 teams will compete in the regularly scheduled winter version of the event, this year in Halifax and Moncton. Latvia can bring back as many as 15 of its players.

“It’s a little bit hard to speak right now,” Latvia’s Gustavs Ozolins said. “We’ll process it and we’ll take the positive things out of this tournament. And there’s a tournament in December. And we will try to we’ll try to make some noise there.”

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.

Articles You May Like

‘1st time I felt Canadian’: Newfoundlander among few who travelled to Russia for 1972 Summit Series
‘Business as usual’ for Sutters in Calgary
Defenceman Brady Keeper vows to be ‘better than ever’ in return to Canucks’ camp
WHL roundup: Winnipeg better late than ever against Brandon
Canucks Höglander Might Benefit From Time in the AHL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.