Tickets for Canada’s games at the 2016 World Junior Championships should really come equipped with defibrillators.
For the second time in as many games, team Canada was forced to rebound from an early deficit – albeit, for different reasons – to come away victorious, this time in a shootout. Unlike its game against Denmark, when the Canadians controlled the play for most of the first 20 minutes but could only manage a tie, Canada showed clear signs of fatigue early on against Switzerland.
An inauspicious start for the Canadians saw Brendan Perlini take an unnecessary holding penalty just 43 seconds into the opening frame. That lead to the first of three fluky goals in the period – this one a Noah Rod shot that deflected off the sake of his teammate Damien Riat before finding its way past Mackenzie Blackwood who was starting his first game coming off a suspension.
Blackwood would be tested much more in the period before Canada was finally able to register its first shot more than eight minutes after the opening faceoff. After some back-and-forth play during which both teams put their physical style on display, Switzerland was once again the benefactor of a lucky bounce when an arrant shot deflected in off Dario Meyer for a 2-0 lead.
A late pushback by the Canadians led to the period’s third and final odd-ball goal: a shot off the stick of Dylan Strome that found a puck-sized hole between Joren van Pottelberghe’s right shoulder and the post to cut the Swiss lead back down to just one goal. Despite some much better play in the following period, Canada would not be fully rewarded on the scoreboard.
In what was another well-played period on both sides, Canada’s effort was considerably better than that of the first period when the Swiss carried the play. The Canadians found a way to generate more quality chances while keeping Swiss chances to a minimum, and after a lengthy stretch without any scoring it was Canada who finally broke through.
Joe Hicketts – the undersized, but gritty defenceman who had already made his presence felt in the game with his physical play – contributed on the offensive side, taking a pass at the point then gliding into the slot before wiring a wrister top shelf to tie the game at twos. Canada was also able to tie the Swiss on the shot clock at 17-17 after being outshot 9-7 in period one.
The third period provided much the same as the second period in the way of offence – that is to say, there was none. Neither team was able to generate any sustained pressure until the latter stages of the period when Canada nearly surrendered the go-ahead goal. That brush with defeat was a momentum changer for Canada, which picked up its play en route to a 3-2 shootout win.
Canada now heads into its final game of the preliminary round against team Sweden (Dec. 29, 1:00 ET) in what could be a battle for first place in Group A, depending on the outcome of team USA’s next two games.