Canada 10 Denmark 2
EDMONTON — Down two players, Canada still remained undefeated at the world junior hockey championship by hammering Denmark 10-2 Thursday.
After losing winger Devante Smith-Pelly for the tournament due to a broken foot, forward Michael Bournival sat out the game Thursday because of what Canadian head coach Don Hay says is the flu.
Defenceman Nathan Beaulieu moved up to fill the forward ranks.
“They picked on the offensive defenceman to jump up so I had no problem doing it,” the Montreal Canadiens prospect said. “We signed onto this team to do whatever it takes so I had no problem jumping up.
“It was fun. It’s a lot more tiring than defence. It wasn’t too unfamiliar, but I learned some things for sure.”
Mark Stone continued his torrid scoring pace for Canada with two goals and an assist. The Winnipeg winger has a team-leading six goals in the tournament.
Defencemen figured prominently in Canada’s victory as Scott Harrington had a goal and three assists and Brandon Gormley had scored twice.
“I think the most points I’ve had in my OHL is career is three,” said Harrington, a defensive stalwart for the London Knights. “That tops it and something I wasn’t expecting to do here.”
Quinton Howden, Ryan Strome, Freddie Hamilton, Brendan Gallagher and Brett Connolly each had a goal in front of 16,275 at Edmonton’s Rexall Place. Strome has eight points in three games.
Canada scored seven times before Nicolai Meyer and Emil Kristensen replied for Denmark in the third period.
The Canadians gave Denmark’s Sebastian Feuk a workout in net, peppering him with 51 shots. Mark Visentin stopped 24-of-26 shots in Canada’s net for his second win of the tournament.
Canada tops Pool B at 3-0 ahead of the U.S., Finland and the Czech Republic at 1-1. Denmark dropped to 0-3.
The host country has Friday off and meets the Americans on Saturday to conclude the preliminary round. The U.S. face the Czechs and the Finns take on the Danes on Friday.
In Pool A action from Calgary, captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov had three goals and six assists as defending champion Russia easily dispatched Latvia 14-0. Russia leads Pool A with a perfect 3-0 record.
The top team in each pool earns a bye to the semifinals. The second seed in each pool faces the third-place team from the opposite pool in the quarter-finals. The bottom two teams in each pool drop to the relegation round.
The U.S. result versus the Czech Republic on Friday will either inflate or deflate the hype for the New Year’s Eve battle with Canada. A loss to the Czechs and the Americans can’t mathematically catch Canada at the top of Pool B.
Bournival, who plays for the Shawinigan Cataractes, took Thursday’s pre-game skate but was not well enough to play in the game.
Hay says Bournival had battled flu for two days, even though he managed to play in Wednesday’s 5-0 win over the Czechs.
The coach wanted to conserve the energy of his forwards since they were minus two players, which prompted the position switch for Beaulieu.
“Obviously that’s not our plan, but we wanted to use as many players as possible,” Hay explained. “We didn’t want to overplay anybody.
“I think he gave us some good shifts. Obviously he’s not comfortable there, but he jumped in and did a good job for us.”
Denmark and Latvia are the promoted teams from the second-tier world championship, called the Division 1 world championship. This year, the International Ice Hockey Federation ruled that only one country will be relegated.
Denmark’s star player is Nicklas Jensen, a first-round draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks. He’s a teammate of Canada’s Boone Jenner on the Oshawa Generals.
But it was a lopsided score as it often is when Canada meets the promoted team in their pool. The Danes lack Canada’s depth of talent, and their defence and goaltending wasn’t enough to hold off the Canadians’ attack.
“I know we’re playing a great team, Team Canada, but 10 goals is too many goals,” Denmark coach Todd Bjorkstrand said.
Canada’s post-goal celebrations were muted in contrast to the excitement they showed outscoring their opposition 13-1 over their first two games of the tournament.
Leading 7-0 heading into the third, there was a drop-off in Canada’s intensity and execution. The two goals by Denmark sparked Canada’s three-goal push with a pair from Gormley and a short-handed goal by Gallagher.
“The urgency is there (but) I think it’s going to drop off at times because you’re not getting pushed or the threat to lose isn’t there,” Hay said. “We had a letdown at the start of the third period when they were able to score their two goals, but I thought we pushed back.
“That was important, to end on a strong note. It’s a hard game to play in when you are expected to win and expected to score a lot of goals. Scoring goals is hard.”
Stone picked up his second goal of the game, with Harrington and Freddie Hamilton also scoring to lead 7-0 after two periods.
Canada was up 4-0 after the opening period on goals from Howden, Connolly, Stone and Strome. Connolly’s goal came short handed at 6:17.