Canada finished pre-tournament play at the 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship with a perfect record Monday.
A 6-5 win in overtime against Belarus Sunday, followed by a 5-4 win over Russia Monday gave Canada a strong start to it’s pursuit of a gold medal with Western Hockey League talent providing the backbone of the team’s performance.
Captain Peyton Krebs (Okotoks, Alta./Winnipeg ICE) had a goal and an assist in Sunday’s victory. Alternate captain Dylan Cozens (Whitehorse, Yukon / Lethbridge Hurricanes) contributed three assists while defenceman Kaedan Korczak (Yorkton, Sask. / Kelowna Rockets) had a pair of helpers. Cozens’ third assist of the contest came on the team’s game-winning goal 45 seconds into overtime.
Goaltender Dylan Garand (Victoria, B.C. / Kamloops Blazers) stopped all nine shots sent his way in 20 minutes of action.
“We found a way to win, and that was important,” said POE management group member and Moose Jaw Warriors general manager Alan Millar. “The game had its ups and downs and that was expected. We have a number of players who haven’t played a game in over three weeks.
“We also have players to add and some work to do to finalize our tournament roster. In the end I thought the game provided us with a lot of teachable moments that will make us better when the tournament starts. Give Belarus credit, they worked hard and it was a competitive game.”
Monday, Canada skated to a 5-4 win over Russia, highlighted by a pair of goals from Cozens with one coming on a penalty shot. Krebs added a pair of assists in the contest. Taylor Gauthier (Calgary, Alta. / Prince George Cougars) stopped 32 of 36 shots in the win.
“Any time we’re playing against the Russians, there’s obviously a rivalry there that goes way back, so even though it was an exhibition game we were excited to play against them,” said Cozens. “We came out strong and we were able to hold the lead and get the win, and we hope to carry that into the preliminary round.”
Canada will open their tournament Thursday, April 18 (11:30 a.m. MT) against Finland. The 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship will be played in Ornskoldsvik and Umea, Sweden from April 18-28.