PIESTANY, Slovakia – Ryan Ellis has no doubt that the Russians will be ready when Canada faces them in the final at the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament.
The Canadian defenceman was part of the team that embarrassed Russia 8-0 in the gold-medal game at the world-18 championship in the spring and figures the Russians will be looking for a little revenge when the teams meet for gold at this tournament on Saturday.
“We pretty much killed them,” said Ellis. “I imagine that there’s a couple guys on that team that remember that 8-0 loss.
“It’s going to be a good game.”
The final game of the round robin wasn’t much of one. Louis Leblanc scored two goals and Ellis added four assists on Thursday as Canada hammered Slovakia 9-1.
The Canadians outshot the Slovaks 53-14 – making it the third straight game that Canada has had more than 50 shots on goal.
“Right down from our first line to our fourth line, we’ve got guys who have been putting the puck in the net since they were little kids,” said Ellis. “The shots and the goals we’ve had, the leads we’ve had, just says it for itself.”
Eight different players scored against the Slovaks.
Brayden Schenn, Scott Glennie, Ryan O’Reilly, Simon Despres, Cody Eakin, Jimmy Bubnick and Garrett Mitchell also had goals for Canada. Goaltender Nathan Lieuwen made 13 saves.
Andrej Kudrna replied for Slovakia. He actually opened the scoring 34 seconds into the game before the Canadians came on strong.
“We unfortunately gave one up in the first shift of the first period,” said Canadian coach Bill Peters. “But we took over from there.”
Slovak goalie Juraj Holly finished with 44 saves in a losing cause.
Peters is feeling good about his team, which has won five straight games including exhibitions. He’s not concerned that Thursday’s lopsided outcome will have a negative impact heading into the gold medal game.
“It can be a bad habit scenario if you allow it to be, but our guys are very mature,” said Peters.
The Canadian team will travel to Bratislava on Friday and relax in the Slovak capital before facing the Russians in Breclav, Czech Republic on Saturday.
Peters and his assistants will study tape of the Russians to try and come up with the best gameplan possible for Canada to win its fourth gold medal in five years at this tournament.
“It’ll be a good match,” said Peters. “They’re 3-0 and we’re 3-0. The two best teams in the tournament have earned the right to play head-to-head.”