Team Canada punched its ticket to the semifinals of the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship with a 6-1 victory against Slovakia in the quarter-finals on Jan. 2 in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Things got off to a rough start for Canada, as forward Nolan Foote was given a game misconduct inside the first minute of the game for a hit causing head contact.
The Canadians killed off the five-minute major without conceding and soon found the back of the net when Barrett Hayton scored just under seven minutes into the game, assisted by Alexis Lafreniere and Whitehorse’s Dylan Cozens.
Slovakia didn’t have any answers for Canada in the second period though, as Team Canada pumped in four goals in the half of the period to stretch the lead to 5-0.
Connor McMichael scored first, assisted by Joe Veleno, followed shortly after by a Jacob Bernard-Docker goal assisted by Jamie Drysdale and Cozens.
Liam Foudy scored, assisted by Ty Dellandrea and Drysdale, and the final Canadian goal of the frame came from Lafreniere, assisted by Calen Addison and Hayton.
Hayton added his second of the game in the third period to make the score 6-0 with a 19 minutes left to play. The lone assist went to Addison.
Slovakia broke up the shutout bid from Joel Hofer with 13 minutes and 50 seconds remaining when Oliver Ocular scored to cut the lead to 6-1, assisted by Kristian Kovacik.
Cozens finished the quarter-final with two assists, four penalty minutes, seven shots, a plus two plus/minus rating and just under 16:30 in ice time.
Team Canada is now set to play Finland in the semifinal on Jan. 4 for a spot in the gold medal game. Sweden and Russia will play in the other semifinal.
Unlike in years past, teams were reranked following the quarter-finals to determine the semifinal matchups.
The Canadians finished first in pool B, but were second overall to Sweden who finished first in pool A with more points.
Russia beat Switzerland 3-1, Sweden beat the Czech Republic 5-0 and Finland beat the United States 1-0 in the other three quarter-finals.
After opening the tournament with a 6-4 win over the United States on Boxing Day, the Canadians suffered a 6-0 loss to Russia on Dec. 28 before rebounding for a 4-1 win against Germany on Dec. 30 and a 7-2 win against the host Czech Republic on Dec 31, with Cozens chipping in four points.
Through the quarter-finals, Cozens has a goal and seven assists for Canada. He’s currently second on the team in scoring behind Hayton who has nine points.
Semifinal action gets underway with Sweden against Russia at 6 a.m. PST on Jan. 4, followed by Canada and Finland with a 10 a.m. puck drop for those in the Yukon.
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at email@example.com