Canada 10 Norway 1
BUFFALO, N.Y. — In a lineup depleted by suspension and injuries, hot-handed Brayden Schenn stepped up with another big game for Canada at the world junior hockey championship.
The Brandon Wheat Kings centre and Los Angeles Kings prospect had four goals and an assist for his second straight five-point game to lead short-handed Canada to a 10-1 rout of lowly Norway on Wednesday night.
Canada has opened the tournament with three straight victories and Schenn leads all scorers with six goals and six assists. That’s as hot as the younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn recalls ever being.
”Last year my linemate in Brandon Matt Keller and me had, I think, 12 points in three games at the end of the year, but (league) junior is not the level of this right now,” Schenn said. ”This is a pretty prestigious tournament.
”You’ve got to shoot at the right times and pick the right spots. Obviously I’m getting a few breaks — pucks squeaking under their arms — but as long as it stays that way I’ll be happy.”
Canada has scored 23 goals in three straight wins in the preliminary round heading into what may be a decisive match for first place in its group on Friday against Sweden (2-0), which plays the Czech Republic on Thursday.
It may take a victory over the powerful Swedes, who should be Canada’s toughest challenge to date, to earn a bye to the semifinals.
”Now we’ve got a real test with Sweden next, we’re looking forward to it,” Schenn said.
In Wednesday’s other game, Finland downed Germany 5-1.
Canada was reduced to 16 skaters as Zack Kassian served the first of a two-game suspension for a hit to the head during a 7-2 win Tuesday over the Czech Republic and defenceman Calvin de Haan and forward Jaden Schwartz sat out with lower body injuries. Forward Cody Eakin skated in the warm-up but then also sat out with a suspected hand or wrist injury.
“It was tough,” team captain Ryan Ellis said.
“We were short a few bodies but everyone played well and we accomplished what we wanted.”
Erik Gudbranson, with two, Casey Cizikas, Louis Leblanc, Sean Couturier and Marcus Foligno also scored for a Canadian team thought before the tournament to be high on muscle and low on offensive punch.
Schenn split the start of the season between the Kings and their AHL farm club before being sent back to Brandon of the Western Hockey League in early December. He spent a lot of time out of the lineup in Los Angeles and admitted he was a little rusty when he reported to the Canadian team selection camp in Toronto two weeks ago.
“I wasn’t at the top of my game,” he said. ”I used the three pre-tournament games to get ready.
”I didn’t play lot of hockey through the first half, but now my legs are under me and I’ve got my speed back.”
Asked if perhaps he is making the Kings regret their decision to send him back to junior, Schenn looked aghast and said: ”I’m not going to comment on that, that’s their decision.
”It would be nice to still be up there but the Kings are a good team and they’re pretty deep at centre. We’ll see what next year brings. I’ll use this tournament to prepare for this season and hopefully I’ll be in L.A. one day.”
Rasmus Juell scored in the first period for Norway (0-3) against Mark Visentin, who made his first start in goal in place of Olivier Roy.
While most of Norway’s 32 shots were from far out, he made a handful of sharp saves including one at the doorstep on Nicolai Bryhnisveen in the first, when the Norwegians had 16 of their 32 shots.
”The one in the first period I caused on myself with a bad rebound,” he said. ”If I let that in it would be totally my fault.
”But the defence did a good job of pushing the shots outside. As the game wore on we got better.”
After Schenn scored Canada’s fifth goal at 14:34 of the first, Norwegian starter Steffen Soberg didn’t wait to be called but skated straight to the bench to be replaced by Lars Volden after facing only 12 shots. Volden was solid after giving up two goals early in his stint. Canada had 43 shots overall.
”We had high expectations, but the (atmosphere in) the building got to be too much for some guys,” said Norwegian coach Geir Hoff. ”We overplayed a bit.
”It was maybe a mistake by me to put the younger goalie (Soberg) in the net, but he played well all year and deserved the chance.”
The crowd at HSBC Arena was a little smaller than for Canada’s first two games but was still overwhelmingly red and white and boisterous as Canada built a 6-1 first-period lead. Schenn scored 44 seconds into the middle period then Canada produced another three goals in the final 3:25 of play.
Cizikas scored 2:01 into the game on a feed at the side of the net from Brett Connolly and Schenn banged in Ryan Johansen’s pass at 4:50 and that effectively ended any hope of drama.
One small victory for Norway: After scoring seven goals on 12 chances in their first two games, Canada was held to 0-for-3 on the power play.
Notes: This is Norway’s seventh appearance at the world junior and they have a 3-39-0 all-time record. . . A Czech official said Petr Senkerik, the player flattened by Kassian on Tuesday, is feeling good but has slight headaches. He didn’t practise Wednesday and is doubtful to play Thursday against Sweden. . . The U.S. team says Jerry D’Amigo and Jason Zucker, both victims of head hits by Slovak players, are day-to-day.