Team Slovakia’s last game was nearly an upset. They are Canada’s next opponents on Friday, at 4:30 a.m. EST.
MONTREAL, QC–To the delight of the Canadians who did manage to successfully open their eyes at 4 a.m. (or earlier) on Boxing Day, the first game of the preliminary round saw captain Ryan Nugent-Hopkins finish with five points as Canada steamrolled Germany 9-3 Wednesday “evening.”
Mark Scheifele scored twice and Jonathan Huberdeau and Ryan Strome each finished with a goal and two assists. Tobias Rieder, Leonhard Pfoderl and Nickolas Latta each responded for the Germans.
Canada, who announced Malcolm Subban as their starting goaltender for the tournament, next takes on a Slovakian team that nearly shocked the Russians on Wednesday.
Slovakia had stormed back to tie the game with less than a minute remaining after falling behind 2-0. Goaltender Adam Nagy was solid in net for the Slovakians, whose fate was determined by a Albert Yarullin slapshot on the power play. Both teams came away from that contest with a renewed awareness about how each point in the standings can either make or break them.
While the Slovaks tend to err more on the closed, cautious side of gameplay, they are certainly willing and able to exploit any defensive breakdowns the Canadians might offer them, and now have the confidence they need to be able to cause more surprises.
Their roster contains a couple of names that might be familiar to Canadians: Martin Reway of the Gatineau Olympiques and Peter Ceresnak of the Peterborough Petes. Richard Mráz also used to play for the Ottawa 67s, while Matus Matis spent 33 games with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens two years ago.
After this game: Germany on Sunday, December 30th at 9:00 a.m. EST, then USA on Monday, December 31st at 5:00 a.m. EST.
2012 finish: 3rd
2012 against Slovakia: These two teams did not face off against one another last year.
Returnees: Dougie Hamilton, Scott Harrington, Jonathan Huberdeau, Boone Jenner, Ryan Strome, Mark Scheifele
After this game: USA on Sunday, December 30th at 4:30 a.m. EST, then Russia on Monday, December 31st at 9:00 a.m. EST.
As for what concerns Canadiens’ prospects, last summer’s third overall selection and member of Team USA Alex Galchenyuk is currently in a game against Germany, where he has picked up a goal and two assists thus far as USA leads the Germans 6-0 after two periods.