Canada opened their quest for their first gold medal in 3 years with a convincing 8-1 win over an overmatched Finnish squad. Ottawa Senators draft pick Mark Stone led the way with a hat trick, and Jonathan Huberdeau added a goal and 4 assists to lead Team Canada. Ryan Strome, Brendan Gallagher, Dougie Hamilton and Brett Connolly added singles.
For a team that was supposed to struggle to score goals in this event, Canada got itself off to a great start, with 6 different players finding the back of the net. They got started early, with Stone breaking the ice 2:23 into the game. The game was never in doubt from that point on.
Team Canada goalie Mark Visentin looked shaky early on, and was bailed out on at least two occasions by defenders protecting the net with the Visentin out of position. But in the endm an Alexander Ruuttu wrist shot early in the second period was the only one to beat Visentin who got better as the game went on and made 24 saves. Christopher Gibson was left in for all 8 goals, facing 42 shots.
Canada’s special teams were perfect, going 2 for 2 on the power play and 4 for 4 killing penalties. The only drawback was the departure of Devante Smith-Pelly, who left the game in the second period with a leg injury. My first thought was achilles tendon the way he left the ice, which would end his tournment and likely his season if that is the case. Replays showed he blocked a shot on his prior shift and it could be an ankle injury. This wasn’t confirmed and hopefully it is just a muscle strain and the power forward will be back by the medal round.
The Canadian boys have Tuesday off before facing off against the Czech Republic on Wednesday and Denmark on Thursday.