2021 WJC GAME DAY THREAD: CANADA vs. GERMANY DEC. 26, 2020 6pm EST TSN1, 4 and 5
Canada begins its Group A round robin play tonight at the 2021 U20 WJC in Edmonton, facing off against Germany at 6pm EST. Canada will be missing team Captain Kirby Dach due to a serious wrist injury suffered in the pre-tourney tune-up game this past Wednesday vs. Russia. Canada’s depth should be able to withstand the loss of Dach, six returnees from last year’s Gold Medal team are still in the lineup. This is a very talented team; twenty of Canada’s 22 player roster are first round NHL picks. It just represents opportunity for others to step up and there are always unsung heroes who have performed well when called upon. Quinton Byfield is one player being looked at to step up in an increased role for Canada. He looked very good against Russia and Coach Andre Tourigny had him on the ice for the final minute.
TSN’s Mark Masters reports that Team Canada’s lines will be:
Perfetti – McMichael – Krebs
Holloway – Newhook – Cozens
Pelletier – Byfield – Mercer
Zary – Suzuki – Tomasino
Devon Levi will start in net
Germany will be in tough this game, they are only able to dress 14 players due to some recent positive COVID-19 testing. This will also be a back-to-back game for them after facing Finland in a 5-3 loss last night. Some tough luck for Germany, they are becoming a fast growing nation for producing top level players and drawing Finland and Canada this early in the tournament was tough enough on its own. I believe the IIHF has suspended the relegation rule this year so that could be fortunate for Germany. They put up a great effort last night and kept it close; it was a one goal game briefly in the 2nd period but the Finns pulled away. Look for them to slow the game down tonight and try and frustrate the Canadian skill, their head coach Tobias Abstreiter is even accounting for the TV timeouts in his game plan. Germany has Tim Stutzle (F 2020-3rd overall OTT) in their lineup; he should be a player to keep an eye on as well as undrafted C Samuel Dube who played in the QMJHL with Halifax. Obviously the German goaltender is likely in for a long evening.
Canada’s New Years Eve opponent this year is Finland, a change from either the Americans or Russia. It should prove to be their toughest challenge in the round robin portion of the tournament. Leaf fans particularly will have interest as 3 of their recent draft picks (Hirvonen F 2020-59th, Niemela D 2020-64th and Kokkonen D 2019-84th) are in the lineup for Finland and this will be a chance to size them up against tough competition. Leaf fans are also painfully aware that there are no Leaf picks on the Canadian roster. The Leaf draft picks had a good game in the win versus Germany, Niemela had a goal and an assist, Kokkonen and Hirvonen each picked up an assist. In the truculence department, Hirvonen picked up 14 penalty minutes in the game.
After what seems forever, we have hockey. We have meaningful hockey. Enjoy the next two weeks as Canada shoots for its 19th World Junior Championship and 3rd in the last 4 years. It all starts tonight.