Follow the match between Canada and the Czech Republic on Monday at 18:30 on RDS.
What does Junior Team Canada have in store for us as a backdrop, with the search for a 20me gold medal in the history of the Under-20 Hockey Championship begins Monday (6:30 pm Quebec time, RDS), in Halifax.
On Christmas Day Sunday, the Canadian players treated themselves to a moderate-intensity workout in front of a handful of journalists in preparation for their game against the Czech Republic, quite possibly one of the two best opponents they will see in qualifying.
In the center of the capital of Nova Scotia, near the Scotiabank Centre, it was completely calm during the festivities of December 25. Quite a contrast to the wave of Maple Leaf supporters expected starting Monday.
It’s a completely different atmosphere that will enliven Mooseheads Amphitheatre, in the QMJHL, when the puck is deposited at center ice in Halifax for the first time in two decades, since the 2003 edition won by Russia, thanks to a victory in the ending on ECJ.
Some may grow old when they learn that Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Jordin Tootoo, Carlo Colaiacovo and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau were part of this silver medal team.
Ironically, hosting the tournament was jointly awarded to Halifax and Moncton in early 2022, after it would normally have been hosted by two Russian cities, Novosibirsk and Omsk. However, this privilege was withdrawn in February, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Gaudreau’s opening… who knows what will happen next?
For this first real match of the competition, Dennis Williams and his assistants have decided to turn to Ben Gaudreau to protect Canada’s net.
“It will be an incredible feeling for me to put the skate first on the ice in front of this crowd. I was very happy when they told me that I was going to be in goal. On the other hand, I must try to approach it like any party. It is a difficult mandate, but you have to take a step back, and take a few deep breaths too”, supported Gaudreau, who explained to us with a satisfied smile that from his earliest childhood no one calls him Benjamin except his mother, “when he speaks to me in of reproach. »
The second coach Stéphane Julien clarified after the session on Sunday, which lasted about 75 minutes, that the choice to start the preliminary phase with Gaudreau is not a disavowal of Thomas Milic, and that the Alternation system between the two goalkeepers is possible for the four round robin games.
Julien, head instructor for Sherbrooke Phoenix, also praised the work done by winger Joshua Roy, one of three Quebec players in training, and a player whose style of play he knows intimately.
Even if you see the choice of 5me round of CH since his GM acquired him from the Saint John Sea Dogs nearly two years ago, the 48-year-old hockey man finds a way to wow with the Beauceron forward’s performance during all three set-ups.
“Honestly, it impresses me. She’s done well in every situation she’s been tasked with, whether it’s five-on-five, understaffed or, more recently, on the power play. [NDLR : au détriment du défenseur de 18 ans Kevin Korchinski] Julien pointed out on Sunday.
In WJC history, Canada and the Czech Republic have met a total of 23 times, and the Maple Leafs have never lost in regulation, posting a record of 20 wins, two draws and one overtime loss.
In the spring of 2021, at the under-18 level, Gaudreau and Milic shared the net, helping Canada to a top podium finish.
As for the rest of the Canadian squad, they will stick to what was deployed two days ago in a 5-3 win over Finland.
Thus, captain Shane Wright will find Connor Bedard and Brendan Othmann, while Adam Fantilli will pivot a trio completed by Logan Stankoven and Dylan Guenther.
Nearly flawless in preseason games, the unit consisting of Nathan Gaucher, Roy and Zach Dean will also remain intact, while Colton Dach will start on the 4th.me unit with Zach Ostapchuk and Caedan Bankier, and that Reid Schaefer will be the 13thme aggressor.
Olen Zellweger and Ethan Del Mastro will patrol the first defensive pairing against the Czech Republic, and Tyson Hinds will complete the right-hander Brandt Clarke. Korchinski and Nolan Allen will also be in the top 6, while Jack Matier will be available as a 7me back.
Asked if Fantilli’s room for maneuver was diminishing after three games in which he was rarely seen, at least in enemy territory, Williams said he has no worries.
“I think the most important thing is to generate scoring chances and not worry too much about it,” he said, referring to the fairly quiet schedule leading up to the tournament that the center, ECJ’s second offensive unit, lives through.
“The last thing you want to see from our guys is they are too tight on the stick because of the pressure (to score). Adam is an excellent teammate, he works very hard, has recovered many pucks and has finished testing him so far. »
Williams agreed, however, that another player could have a chance to break into the second drive of the power play, if the University of Michigan Wolverines’ star player stagnates in that aspect of the game.
On the Czech side, the 6me The overall pick from the last draft, defenseman David Jiříček, will jump into the fray against Canada against a difficult backdrop, to say the least. The big right-handed pitcher played for the Monsters in Cleveland, AHL, on Friday and the flight he was supposed to take to the Maritimes on Sunday was postponed, so at best he’ll have a session with his teammates before . to start the tournament.
Not surprisingly, Jiříček, who is hovering around the points-per-game mark in his first North American campaign (5 goals and 15 assists in 19 games), should team up with another Blue Jackets pick, Stanislas Svozil.
It will be Jiříček’s chance to return to action at the Junior World Cup, precisely 364 days after he saw his tournament end in the Czech Republic’s first match as a result of a torn knee ligament that sidelined him for almost five months.
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