WORLD JUNIORS PREVIEW: CANADA VS. LATVIA
Wednesday, August 10 | 4 p.m. MT | Edmonton, Alberta | Preliminary Round
TV: TSN | Radio: TSN Radio | Stream: TSN Direct
Let the games begin in Edmonton! Canada’s National Junior Team opens preliminary-round play at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship against Latvia, getting Group A action started with just the third meeting ever between the countries.
The Canadians looked good early in their 4-3 pre-tournament win over Sweden on Monday night, getting goals 34 seconds apart from Nathan Gaucher and Mason McTavish midway through the first period and a power-play marker from Kent Johnson before the end of the opening frame for a 3-0 lead. Joshua Roy made it 4-1 early in the third before the Swedes made things interesting. Dylan Garand got the start between the pipes for Canada, stopping all 15 shots he faced before Sebastian Cossa turned aside eight of 11.
Latvia opened its Group A schedule on Tuesday afternoon, falling 6-1 to Finland. Bruno Bruveris was the standout between the pipes for the Baltic nation, finishing with 33 saves. Klavs Weinbergs provided the lone goal for the Latvians, converting on a power play early in the third period.
It has been almost six years since Canada and Latvia met at the World Juniors. Taylor Raddysh was the offensive star on Dec. 29, 2016, registering just the fourth four-goal game by a Canadian and adding an assist for good measure in a 10-2 win. Dylan Strome recorded four assists, Kale Clague had three and Matthew Barzal scored twice for Canada, which netted its 10 goals on just 35 shots.
WHAT TO WATCH
How about the season Kent Johnson had in 2021-22? The 19-year-old played in the IIHF World Junior Championship, the Olympic Winter Games, the IIHF World Championship and the NCAA Frozen Four, and made his NHL debut with the Columbus Blue Jackets. And all of that happened between December and May. So the product of Port Moody, B.C. – an alternate captain with Team Canada – is going to leaned upon for his experience … and his offence. Johnson had 37 points in 32 games with a star-studded University of Michigan team.
Latvia is back at the World Juniors for the first time since 2017, and its roster includes a number of players who are no stranger to North American hockey. Five ply their trade in the USHL, another five have CHL experience (three in the QMJHL, one in the OHL and one in the WHL) and three are enrolled at U.S. colleges. So there won’t be a fear factor when it comes to playing the physical brand of hockey Canadian entries are typically known for at the tournament.
A LOOK BACK
Other than the game mentioned above from the 2017 World Juniors, Canada and Latvia have only met one other time.
That game, a Boxing Day matchup at the 2010 tournament in Saskatchewan, featured plenty of offence from the Canadians. Gabriel Bourque tied the single-game record with seven points (3-4—7) and Jordan Eberle, Brandon Kozun, Patrice Cormier, Nazem Kadri and Luke Adam each scored a pair of goals in a 16-0 win.
All-time record: Canada leads 2-0-0
Canada goals: 26
Latvia goals: 2
Source: Hockey Canada 🇨🇦