Skip to main content

The number on the scoreboard told the story of the game.


No, it was not the score for Canada - though Team Canada did manage a second successive lopsided shutout in the world junior hockey championship - but rather the standing of the 50/50 draw at the end of the second period.

Story continues below advertisement

By game's end, it had breached $94,000 and one lucky fan was walking out with $47,000 in winnings, while Canada left with a rather easy 6-0 victory over Switzerland, no luck required.

Combined with Saturday's 16-0 rout of Latvia, Canada has now scored 22 times without a single goal against. It does not make for riveting hockey.

There was a moment - brief, sadly soon forgotten - when this second mismatch in a row might have become a game, but the loud clang from the Canadian end of the rink signalled the hope of a little tension was lost.

In a rare breakdown in positional play, the Canadian juniors, ahead 1-0 on a goal by Brandon McMillan, let a puck slip away on a power play, allowing the Swiss to break up ice on a two-on-one rush, a quick wrist shot ticking off a post back of Canadian goaltender Jake Allen and harmlessly away.

It would be the last caught breath of the day.

Moments later, Canada went ahead 2-0 on a second consecutive wrist shot from the slot that Swiss goaltender Benjamin Conz could not handle. Soon it was 3-0, 4-0, 5-0, watch-nothing as the crowd increasingly turned its attention to the true highlights of the game: Free scarves, free T-shirts, the breathtaking 50/50 draw and - for definitive proof that boredom had struck fast among the 13,301 gathered here at Credit Union Centre - the dreaded wave.

McMillan, with a hat trick, was the hero of the moment, though moments were few, while other Canadian goals went to Alex Pietrangelo, Nazem Kadri, and Jordan Eberle. Eberle, 19, a Saskatchewan native, was aptly chosen Canadian player of the game for his goal and four assists.

Story continues below advertisement

The Regina native - and hero of last year's gold-medal match when he put the Canada-Russia game into overtime - seemed as delighted with Team Canada's new green jerseys as he was by his own performance.

"I'm a big Riders fan," he said. "Kind of cool to wear it."

"I heard there's some negative feedback from around the country," McMillan said, "but the guys are liking it."

Perhaps the government should, as well, as Canada shows the rest of the world, at least the hockey world, that it isn't against being green - even if this early game will be the only one in which the "Saskatchewan" colours are flown.

To the credit of the Swiss, they were far stronger, faster and determined than the pitifully mismatched Latvians. They gave as good as they received (this still being the Christmas season, after all) from the physical Canadians. Led by powerful captain Luca Sbisa, the Swiss often won battles along the boards and several times crunched the more skilled Canadians into the glass. In the third period, the Swiss could be fairly described by a word usually saved for Canadians: chippy.

"We're not afraid of playing physical at all," said Sbisa, who earlier this year played several NHL games with the Anaheim Ducks.

Story continues below advertisement

"They were in your face," Eberle said, "and they had speed. We've got to make sure we keep our composure."

"We were kind of surprised by how hard they worked," Pietrangelo said.

Switzerland's real problem, as openly admitted by Sbisa, is that its strong defence is not helped any by a weak offence. The Swiss had only 15 shots on net, three of them threatening, while the Canadians threw 54 shots at Conz.

The game turned decisively in a matter of moments early in the second period. With Switzerland's Mauro Jorg off for delay of game - and moments after the Swiss hit the post short-handed - Kadri put Canada ahead 2-0 on the power play, but the power play was not cancelled by the goal. A delayed penalty was about to be called against the Swiss and, in international play, a goal rescinds the delayed call but allows the original penalty to carry on. When Eberle scored 20 seconds after Kadri, the game was over. Most fans lost interest in everything but the ticket draw.

While the game was no real test of Canada, there will still be matters to consider here. The line of Eberle, McMillan and Brayden Schenn, all from the Western Hockey League, is the team's best, with Eberle a master playmaker and simply magical with the puck in traffic. Little Ryan Ellis, just as he did last year, is brilliant at running and controlling a power play from the point. The defence is solid and, just as important, the forwards can finish - at least so far against two significantly inferior opponents. Canada's next match comes this evening against Slovakia.

"I wish them all the best," Swiss captain Sbisa said, "but there's a lot of good teams that could beat them. "Every team, no matter who is on it, is beatable."

But when you're up 22-0 after only two games, it sort of feels unbeatable.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author

Roy MacGregor was born in the small village of Whitney, Ont., in 1948. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2002, he worked for the National Post, the Ottawa Citizen, Maclean's magazine (three separate times), the Toronto Star and The Canadian Magazine. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.