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Canada’s world youth team is not worried about Finland

EDMONTON –

So far, things have been almost too easy for the Canadian youth team.

As the team prepares to face Finland on Monday in a match that will decide who tops Group A at the world junior hockey championship, the host’s biggest enemy may just be complacency. .

So far, it’s been a walk in the park for Canadian juniors. They knocked Latvia, Slovakia and Czechia aside with a final score of 21-4. And, of those two wins, there were two standout performances in goal, by Latvia’s Patriks Berzins and Czechia’s Tomas Suchanek.

In three wins, they took a 145-70 lead.

“Obviously, our shots were very high in both games,” defender Olen Zellweger said of Canada’s wins over Slovakia and Czechia.

“That is very good for us. I guess if you said I would be shocked (by the size of the win), I guess I would be a bit. But our team is good and that’s our goal – shoot the bullet, take it and keep creating that offense.”

The Finns won all three of their group matches – although the Finns needed a penalty shootout to knock the Czechs out. They beat Slovakia on Sunday afternoon 9-3 just as Canada was preparing to jump on the ice at the neighboring training ground – so the Canadians only glimpsed that victory for Finland.

But Canadians know they have to work on some details. The Finns scored 5 goals in a victory over the Slovaks. New York Islanders prospect Aatu Raty has eight points in three games, while Nashville Predators draft pick Joakim Kemell has seven.

“You can beat a lot, but we’re also doing a lot of good,” said Canadian striker Mason McTavish, who leads the league with 10 points from three games. “We just focused on fixing some mistakes.”

McTavish said one area of ​​focus is the puck movement in the power game, to make things “simpler” and move the puck faster. If there was one dull moment for the Canadians in their win over the Czechs, it was an early five-minute play of power that produced little and allowed a narrow goal.

Canadian forward Kent Johnson, who scored a stunning volleyball-style surround goal in Saturday’s win over the Czechs, said he is not worried that the Canadians will be fooled by their own success until now.

“I think, a lot of times, when you’re winning like that, you can be complacent, but it’s a battle of a lifetime that I think a lot of us have faced a lot,” he said. . “I’m not too worried about that.”

Remember that kids who reach this level dominate games in minor hockey. They were in their own stratosphere as they played on the community rinks. So, from an early age, they had to push themselves to a higher level than anyone around them.

“Every player on this team, every staff member, they’re here for a reason,” Johnson said. “I don’t think we’re the kind of people with easy-to-please personalities.”

For Zellweger, it’s about making sure he and his teammates don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.

“I think we have to keep our goals in mind,” he said. “We are here for the gold medal, and that is something we have to keep in mind. When we prepare through practice, prepare for our matches, that has to be our mindset. “

Zellweger said it is good for Canadians to have time to practice, as many training sessions have been canceled because of the tight schedule. Balancing rest and three games in four days means there’s not much time to adjust to the Canadian game, not as it sounds like it needs a lot.

Zellweger said Canadians know the dangers the Finns bring to their game.

“I think it’s their speed and structure,” he said. “They make mistakes, so we have to be ready to play a strong two-way game.”


This report by the Canadian Press was first published on August 14, 2022.

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