Canada’s Dylan Cozens (22) is stopped by Finland goalie Kari Piiroinen (1) during third period IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship action in Edmonton, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Canada’s Dylan Cozens (22) is stopped by Finland goalie Kari Piiroinen (1) during third period IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship action in Edmonton, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Canada tops pool at world junior hockey championship, meets Czechs in quarterfinal

Goaltender Devon Levi stopped 18-of-19 shots

EDMONTON — Dylan Cozens applied grit and goals to Canada’s 4-1 win over Finland at the world junior men’s hockey championship Thursday.

The Canadian co-captain scored twice, including a hard-working empty-net goal.

The host country went unbeaten in four preliminary-round games to top Pool A.

Canada drew the Czech Republic, the No. 4 seed in Pool B, for Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Dylan Holloway and Peyton Krebs also scored for the defending champions at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

Canadian goaltender Devon Levi stopped 18-of-19 shots for his fourth win of the tournament.

Brad Lambert scored for Finland (3-1).

Karri Piiroinen, who played for the Ontario Hockey League’s Windsor Spitfires last season, had 36 saves in the loss.

Canada and Finland cruised through the preliminary round with three straight wins apiece and outscored their opposition a combined 44-7.

Their New Year’s Eve matchup was each country’s toughest test of the tournament so far, with Canada earning the higher grade.

Canada dominated puck possession, scoring three unanswered goals over two periods before the Finns replied in the third.

“We came out and played our best game so far,” Cozens said. “We reloaded hard on pucks. They had a tough time getting out of their zone and that was all because of our track and our reload.

“We did a real good job getting to the inside tonight and getting to the front of the net and battling there. That’s something we improved a lot in this game. We’d been a little perimeter so far, but today we got inside and we threw a lot more (pucks) on net.”

The top four teams in each pool advance to the quarterfinals. Finland will face Sweden, who finished third in Pool B following a 4-0 loss to the U.S. on Thursday.

The U.S. finished at the top of the group with a 3-1 record and will face Slovakia in the quarterfinals.

Russia, with a 2-1-0-1 record (wins, overtime wins, overtime losses, losses), will play Germany (1-1-0-2).

The semifinals are Monday followed by Tuesday’s medal games at Rogers Place.

Cozens is alternating the captaincy with Bowen Byram in the absence of injured Kirby Dach.

Cozens scored Canada’s first and final goals against Finland and now leads the tournament with six.

With Piiroinen pulled for an extra attacker late in the third, the Buffalo Sabres prospect from Whitehorse pursued the puck through the neutral zone and fought off Kasper Puutio to get a shot away at the empty net.

“What I like about Coz is his compete level,” Canadian head coach Andre Tourigny said. “He wants to be a difference maker.

“He’s a big-moment player, a key player and a guy we can trust when the pressure is high.”

Canada’s relentless forecheck hemmed the Finns in their own zone for long stretches.

“That was beautiful,” Tourigny said. “We applied a lot of pressure. Not just doing it, but sustaining it.

“We were expecting the Finns to push back, which they did. We had an answer for it.”

A gap in Canada’s game, however, was an 0-for-5 power play.

“We forced it a little bit,” Tourigny said. “We missed the net on a few scoring chances. I think we did a lot of good things but at some points we forced a few plays.

“At some point we need to simplify, but the structure is pretty good.”

Finland lost defenceman Ville Heinola in the third period when the Winnipeg Jets draft pick blocked a shot with his hand and went to the dressing room.

Canada’s Alex Newhook also left the game and didn’t return. The forward was checked hard by Eemil Viro in the first period and suffered what looked like a shoulder injury.

Neither team provided an update on their injured player following the game.

It was all Canada in the opening period with hard pace and pressure in Finland’s zone and a 17-1 margin in shots, but just a one-goal lead heading into the second.

“At the start of the game we weren’t ready at all,” Finnish head coach Antti Pennanen said.

“Team Canada was so good. They played at good speed. They win all the battles and they win the loose pucks. We tried to improve those things. I think we did, but not enough.”

Switzerland and Austria went winless in the tournament to finish outside the quarterfinals. The two countries won’t play a relegation round.

The second-tier world junior championship was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so no country earned promotion.

Switzerland and Austria will be in the field again at the 2022 world junior tournament in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 31, 2020.

hockey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer city council gave initial approval for more mixed-use developments in Riverside Light Industrial Park. (File photo by Advocate staff)
More industrial landowners in Red Deer are pursuing mixed-use zoning

A third of Riverside Light could become a commercial/industrial district

Central Alberta man facing second-degree murder in connection with December death.
Advocate file photo
Central Alberta man facing second-degree murder in connection with December death

Maskwacis RCMP said female found dead in Ermineskin Cree Nation residence last December

Red Deer College has been working towards obtaining university status for a couple of years. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer College’s university status back in question

Red Deer College should be worried that its university dreams could be… Continue reading

The Mountain Cree Traditional Band headquarters in Mirror, Alta. has been the target of theft and vandalism. (Photo submitted)
Vandals strike: Artifacts worth $1M gone from central Alberta museum

AWNTB says not enough been done to deter crime in Mirror, Alta.

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

Montreal Canadiens down Edmonton Oilers 3-1, sweep series

Montreal Canadiens down Edmonton Oilers 3-1, sweep series

Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) loses the basketball as he tries to drive around Dallas Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein (33) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris O'Meara
Lowry leads the way as Raptors down the Mavericks for their third straight win

Lowry leads the way as Raptors down the Mavericks for their third straight win

Johnny Gaudreau’s goal and assist paces Flames to 5-2 victory over Canucks

Johnny Gaudreau’s goal and assist paces Flames to 5-2 victory over Canucks

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, on Dec. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Tory MP Sloan accuses party of hypocrisy over efforts to have him expelled

Tory MP Sloan accuses party of hypocrisy over efforts to have him expelled

FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019 file photo Britain's Andy Murray reacts during a press conference following his first round loss to Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia. Former world number one Murray's participation at the upcoming Australian Open is in doubt after the Briton tested positive for COVID-19. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)
Australian Open arrivals hit by 3 COVID-19 positive tests

Australian Open arrivals hit by 3 COVID-19 positive tests

Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitchell Marner (16) scores on an empty net and takes a hit from Winnipeg Jets defenceman Neal Pionk (4) during third period of action in Toronto on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto Maple Leafs ride dominant second period to down Winnipeg Jets 3-1

Toronto Maple Leafs ride dominant second period to down Winnipeg Jets 3-1

Roman Sadovsky wins the Challenge, his only event of the figure skating season

Roman Sadovsky wins the Challenge, his only event of the figure skating season

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, speaks with International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel during their meeting in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. (Nikolai Petrov/BelTA Pool Photo via AP)
IIHF pulls hockey worlds from Belarus, seeks new host

IIHF pulls hockey worlds from Belarus, seeks new host

Most Read