Team Canada (3-0-0) vs Team Russia (3-0-0)
Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC
When: 5:00 pm PST
Where To Watch: TSN
As much as this tournament has become ingrained in the holiday celebrations of many Canadians, so has the scheduling of the most important game of the Round Robin portion of the tournament on New Years Eve. Whether it’s the USA or Russia, watching Team Canada in a huge game before getting on with the evening’s festivities has become part of what makes the World Juniors so great.
Canada’s looked good, not great, but good to this point. They’ve gotten the goaltending they needed out of Canucks draft pick Michael DiPietro and Ian Scott, and should DiPietro get the job done tonight it’s his the rest of the way. They’ve gotten balanced scoring, and it seems like this year the makeup of the team is designed to be a threat offensively no matter who’s out, without sacrificing defence.
Morgan Frost leads Canada in scoring with 4 goals and 3 assists, while team captain Maxime Comtois has 5 goals and 1 assist. Every player that’s dressed has had at least a point (except Scott), and that’s something coach Tim Hunter has to like. What he doesn’t like is Canada’s power play. It’s been just terrible, and in a game against a team like the Russians, special teams could very well be the difference maker.
The Russians are coming off a 7-4 win over Switzerland, but that score doesn’t really tell the story of that game. The Swiss led 3-2 in the 2nd period before the Russians tied it on the PP, but the Swiss regained the lead. They had a glorious opportunity when the Russians were called on the ‘Is this really happening’ Double penalty shot. Unfortunately the Swiss player missed both opportunities and the period ended with a Russian skater being ejected, and a 5 minute PP for the Swiss to start the 3rd.
The Russians got a shorthanded goal to tie it and scored 3 more in the 3rd for the 7-4 win. This Russian team is big, fast and not afraid to play physical. And while the Canada/USA rivalry may have grown larger over the years, the animosity between these teams is in their respective DNA’s. And believe me, the Russians know how big beating Canada on it’s home soil is.
The US are also in action tonight, and for those of you wanting to track the progress of Quinn Hughes and Tyler Madden, that game is on TSN1 and 5 live from Save On Foods Memorial Center in Victoria at 7:30 PST.