VANCOUVER– The start of every World Junior Hockey Championship brings great joy and optimism. Unless you are Team Denmark.
Team Canada, looking to defend as gold medalists, were not messing around in front of their home fans in Rogers Arena. The 22 young Canadians representing the national junior team put on a show, defeating Denmark by a two-touchdown margin 14-0. If there were any doubts and criticisms after Canada’s pre-competition loss to Finland, those were put to rest after the home nation’s tournament opener. This is a fast and skilled Canadian team, eager to showcase their talents any chance they have control of the puck.
“I talked to the team after the second period and said ‘You guys determine how you finish this game off because you’re going to play, not me.’ I was proud of the way they finished the game off,” said Team Canada coach Tim Hunter after the game.
Max Comtois Proves His Value as Captain
Already in Vancouver, Comtois has generated four goals, all against Denmark. His ability to see the ice with ease and use his speed to separate from defenders is crucial. They make the 19-year-old an effective winger for Team Canada.
“I have the experience from last year and [knowledge of] what it takes to win a gold medal,” says Comtois. “I’m going to play my game, do what is asked and try to make my teammates comfortable out there on the ice.”
It is no surprise why Hunter selected Comtois as this year’s captain. The experience he brings to this team is second to none. This was evident in Canada’s win over Denmark. The young forward will be the engine of this squad’s offence. With his historic performance, Comtois becomes the fifth Canadian player to score four goals in a World Juniors game, joining Taylor Raddysh, Brayden Schenn, Simon Gagne, and Mario Lemieux.
“Our offence was one of our strengths last year and it’s good to have that again this year. Everyone contributed to the win and it gives us confidence that everyone can put the puck in the back of the net and we’ll just try to continue to do our job as the tournament goes on,” Comtois stated.
Morgan Frost Records First Career Hat Trick
Philadelphia Flyers prospect Morgan Frost has 14 two-goal games in the OHL this season playing for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Two periods into his first World Junior Hockey Championship, Frost had recorded his first career junior hockey hat trick. He quickly became a household name at this year’s tournament. When the game concluded, fans at Rogers Arena were loudly chanting “Frosty!”
“It was just a crazy feeling the whole game. The fans chanting my name. That was just the coolest moment I’ve ever been a part of,” Frost said.
The Aurora, Ontario native has 58 points (20 goals, 38 assists) in 32 games for the Greyhounds this season. Frost is a skilled playmaker, who can read plays with ease in all three zones. His skating is poised and he can set his linemates up for quality scoring opportunities, evidenced by his assist to Florida Panthers prospect Owen Tippett for Canada’s second goal. While he did not make the Flyers this season, Frost is improving his game in the OHL. He will be a critical asset for Team Canada this tournament.
“We played a full 60 minutes and everyone was going tonight. Our team definitely prepared well for the game and every game brings a new challenge, so now we’ll focus on the next game, continue to play the way we did tonight and carry that momentum on,” Frost said.
With Canada set to take on Switzerland Thursday, it is clear that this group is prepared for that contest. If the Swiss team cannot keep up with the speed of Canada, then Pitbull’s “Don’t Stop The Party” will continue to blast through every corner of Rogers Arena once again.
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