ST. CATHARINES, Ont. — Dante Fabbro has enjoyed welcoming new players to Canada’s junior team and keeping it loose in the locker room.
But he was more than ready to actually play a game, finally getting the chance on Friday as Canada beat Denmark 5-2. It was the Boston University defenceman’s first game at Hockey Canada’s selection camp ahead of the world junior hockey championship as he healed up a contusion.
At the start of the camp, the coaching staff had asked Fabbro and the six other players returning from last year’s silver-medal team to make sure newer players were comfortable. As Fabbro spent most of his time off the ice, he threw himself into rolling out the welcome mat.
“Leading up to the games, just hanging out with the guys who weren’t playing, getting to know everyone,” said Fabbro. “It’s been good so far but it’s obviously not fun sitting out and not being able to out there. I just wanted to get as healthy as possible so I can play.”
Jordan Kyrou had a goal and an assist to lead Canada and Ottawa Senators prospect Alex Formenton had the eventual winner late in the second period. Boris Katchouk, Brett Howden and Tyler Steenbergen also scored.
Fabbro left the game early, but he said it was just precautionary and that head coach Dominique Ducharme had given him permission to leave the bench toward the end of the third period.
“It was good to see him back on the ice,” said Ducharme. “He was a good player last year and I think he’s progressed well. You see his maturity in his game physically, he’s hard on battles, he’s retrieving a lot of pucks, winning one-on-ones. It’s good to see him back.”
Joachim Blichfeld and Phillip Schultz replied for Denmark.
Both teams changed goalies midway through the game. Colton Point started in net for Canada, stopping 4-of-5 shots before giving way to Michael DiPietro, who made eight saves.
Emil Gransoe turned aside 21-of-23 shots in the first 30 minutes of play for Denmark. Mads Sogaard stopped 27-of-30.
Canada’s 22-player lineup was settled later Friday, with five players being sent home after the win over Denmark.
Fabbro was glad to get back into a game because, as a defenceman, playing an actual opponent is better preparation than running drills against teammates. He was especially pleased to play against Denmark’s European-style offence where he could practise reading their intricate passing plays.
“It was good getting back in the swing of things after being hurt for a bit,” said Fabbro. “I felt pretty good. A little later in the game I felt it a little cardio-wise and where my contusion is but guys helped me a lot out there and get back into the swing of things.”
Canada will play exhibition games against Czech Republic on Wednesday in London, Ont., and Switzerland on Dec. 22 in Hamilton. The Canadians’ final roster must be submitted to the International Ice Hockey Federation by Dec. 25. Their first game is in Buffalo, N.Y., on Dec. 26.
Katchouk snapped a rebound over Gransoe 6:05 into the first period on a power play. Gransoe had dropped on the initial shot and was reaching for the puck when Katchouk pulled it back and wristed it over the goalie.
Blichfeld tied it 1-1 for Denmark, picking a corner over Point’s right shoulder from a difficult angle, low in the faceoff circle.
Howden re-established Canada’s lead in the second, flipping the puck over Gransoe.
Formenton put away the winner when defenceman Cal Foote’s big rebound off Sogaard bounced directly to his stick, giving him an open net to make it 3-1.
Canada outshot Denmark 31-9 after two periods, but Schultz cut it to 3-2 just 33 seconds into the third.
Steenbergen redirected a pass from Kyrou, who was behind the goal line, to give Canada a 4-2 lead 7:33 into the third period just after a Danish penalty had expired.
Kyrou, who leads the Ontario Hockey League in scoring, had his first goal of Canada’s selection camp on a power play late in the third.