Canada took care of business against Switzerland and though it wasn’t a cakewalk, the Swiss never really seemed to be a real threat. Here’s a look at some of the players who stood out.
MALMO, SWEDEN – It was by no means a perfect game by Canada, but the team’s overall talent found enough cracks in the Swiss defense to end up with a comfortable 4-1 win and a berth in the semifinal, where the Canucks will face Finland. At times early on, Canada got a little too cute with the puck and while it didn’t cost them initially, it also made the game closer than necessary as scoring chances were neutralized by the Swiss. The fact Griffin Reinhart’s opening goal came on a scramble in tight reinforced the notion that no-frills hockey was the way to go.
“We wanted to play a simple hockey game,” said center Bo Horvat. “We have a bunch of guys with really good hockey sense and that work the corners and find each other on the ice. I thought we did a good job of keeping it simple and it worked out for us.”
An excellent tip by Nico Dunner was the only blemish on goalie Zach Fucale and Anthony Mantha added to his team scoring lead with a goal on a penalty shot. Here’s a scouting report on some of the NHL prospects and draft hopefuls from the game.
Curtis Lazar, Ottawa (17th overall in 2013) – This tournament has been a coming-out party for Lazar, who has become a favorite of coach Brent Sutter. Threw a big hit early and was the center on the first power play unit. Great effort on 4-on-4 goal to make it 3-1 – strong move around the net for the wraparound. Has also been one of the team’s best penalty-killers. Currently plays for Edmonton in the Western League.
Bo Horvat, Vancouver (9th overall in 2013) – Key shot block on late penalty-kill. Had some dominating shifts, even though it didn’t translate on the scoresheet. Currently playing in the Ontario League for London, Horvat is a two-way center who is very dependable in all facets of the game.
Aaron Ekblad, 2014 draft – His reach can be very disruptive for enemy forwards. Playing a simple game on pairing with Derrick Pouliot, who has good rushing ability and scored a cracking goal. Made great clearing pass under pressure from two forecheckers; lots of poise. Amazing he’s the youngest defenseman on the team. Plays for Barrie in the OHL.
Frederik Gauthier, Toronto (21st overall in 2013) – Played a solid physical game. Responsible center cleared out far side of the net on a Swiss rush, neutralizing any chance at someone getting a rebound. Currently plays for Rimouski in the Quebec League.
Kevin Fiala, 2014 draft – Gritty player with great hands, doesn’t mind going into traffic for a scoring chance. Got into it with Horvat early on. Saw decent power play time and made great effort early in second to get excellent wraparound chance on Fucale. Assisted on Swiss goal but also coughed up the puck 4-on-4 on Canada’s 3-1 goal. Currently plays for HV 71 in Sweden.
Phil Baltisberger, 2014 draft – Took a minor penalty in first and played sparingly after that. Ice time came back in second and third. Mostly a defensive defenseman, but will venture into offensive zone if the chance presents itself. I saw him this year with the OHL’s Guelph Storm where he also played a depth role; expect him to play more minutes on the Swiss blueline next year.
Mirco Muller, San Jose (18th overall in 2013) – Lanky frame gives him great range when defending; makes a nice quick outlet pass. Plays on the first power play unit and pretty much all situations. Assisted on Switzerland’s goal and currently plays for Everett in the WHL.
Get scores, schedules and more on THN.com’s World Junior Championship Central page.