Boy oh boy did team Canada open their exhibition games leading up to the World Juniors with a bang. Not only did they lay a beating on the Czech Republic, they also lost one of their top defenceman in Aaron Ekblad during the game.
The 41 man roster of team Canada hopefuls took on their first opponent on Tuesday night when they squared off with the Czech Republic. Canada came out on top with a 6-2 victory in their first exhibition game leading up to the tournament.
Zach Fucale played the majority of the game between the pipes and stood tall all night stopping all nine shots against him. Tristan Jarry also saw some time in the crease and made 5 saves on 7 shots, while Virtek Vanecek made 29 saves for the Czech Republic in the loss.
Sam Reinhart netted two goals for Canada who also saw contributions from Curtis Lazar, Nick Paul, Haydn Fleury and Anthony Duclair. Note, Reinhart’s second tally was credited to Frederik Gauthier, despite the fact Reinhart was the one to score. Reinhart had a big game acting as Canada’s captain for the game as he looks to cement his place as a leader on this years World Junior Team, while Fleury was a big standout on the blue line. Judging by the 16 shots on Canada’s netminders throughout the game, their defence appears to be solid at shutting down the opposition and keeping the pucks away from the net.
As previously mentioned, Team Canada did lose defenceman and 2014 first overall pick Aaron Ekblad to injury when he took a hit from Lukas Klok. Reports after the game indicated that he appeared to be okay, however today hockey Canada announced that Ekblad is done for the summer with a concussion.
All in all Canada looked good during their first World Junior test of sorts. Of course more players will have step up to replace those heading to the NHL and those lost to injury throughout the tournament.
Team Canada will play their second game on Wednesday night against Russia and highly touted 2015 draft prospect, Connor McDavid will get his first look with this years World Junior team in the game.