Sports

Regardless of lacking NHL stars, ‘relentless’ Canada able to defend gold at world juniors

Alan Letang is not centered on the absences.

It does not do Canada’s head coach any good.

“We’re lacking what we miss,” Letang stated. “There’s nothing we are able to do about that.”

The under-20 males’s nationwide staff will likely be with no handful of eligible NHLers when it opens the world junior hockey championship Tuesday in opposition to Finland.

Letang, nonetheless, is solely centered on the gamers within the fold as Canada appears to be like to safe a 3rd consecutive gold medal — and the event’s first three-peat because the nation topped the rostrum 5 straight occasions between 2005 and 2009.

“We have got the group now we have,” Letang continued. “If we win with 4 traces, there’s nothing improper with that. If you do not have the famous person, everybody will get to contribute.

“Canada’s depth is the large benefit.”

Gamers within the professionals skipping the annual vacation showcase embody potential returnees Connor Bedard — who rewrote Canada’s document e-book final 12 months in Halifax and was all the time extremely unlikely to play in 2024 — Adam Fantilli, Shane Wright and Kevin Korchinski, whereas Zach Benson may have additionally been within the combine.

Regardless of lacking these huge names, the group set to hit the ice in Gothenburg, Sweden, on Boxing Day nonetheless has lots to supply.

“A staff that is over the boards,” Letang stated. “A staff by committee the place everybody’s chipping in.”

Macklin Celebrini, the presumptive No. 1 choose on the upcoming NHL draft, leads the ahead group together with Conor Geekie, Matthew Savoie and Owen Beck — a Montreal Canadiens prospect and the one returning participant from 2023 — whereas the defence corps is anchored by Denton Mateychuk and Maveric Lamoureux.

“You’ll be able to’t cover away from the truth that there’s some guys that may very well be right here that are not, however now we have an ideal group,” stated Celebrini, a 17-year-old standout at Boston College this season. “A number of particular gamers in that locker room.”

The goaltending stays the standard query mark, with Scott Ratzlaff, Mathis Rousseau and Samuel St-Hilaire all seeking to stake their crease declare, however the squad bought a lift when the Boston Bruins loaned centre Matthew Poitras, who has 13 factors in 27 video games this season, to Canada all through the event.

Pleasure and nerves

Beck, Fraser Minten and Matthew Savoie, in the meantime, have performed six mixed NHL contests.

“The entire nation’s riveted on Boxing Day,” stated Letang, who was an assistant when Canada gained gold in 2020 and 2023. “These youngsters have not gone by way of that but. There will be nerves, there will be some studying curve.

“They’re excited to get their second.”

An skilled United States roster and hosts Sweden are seen as favourites on the skin, however that does not hassle Canada.

“Completely an ideal honour,” Mateychuk stated of pulling on the purple Maple Leaf. “Simply going to the camps up to now, they all the time present you these world junior objectives, these huge moments.”

One phrase is persistently getting thrown round by gamers and workers alike when requested what stands in regards to the roster.

“Relentless,” Geekie stated.

“Relentless and resilient,” Letang added. “That is bought to be our group and that is bought to be our mindset. All of us have one thing to show to one another, and to everyone.”

Hockey Canada government Scott Salmond chipped in with a pair extra adjectives.

“Aggressive, tenacious, relentless,” he stated. “With out these star gamers, everyone’s bought to do extra.

“We’ll come at groups in waves.”

Canada is in Group A with Finland, Sweden, Latvia and Germany. The medal spherical begins Jan. 2, with the ultimate set for Jan. 5 at Gothenburg’s Scandinavium area.

‘Each little second actually issues’

A mid-tournament damage alternative final 12 months, Beck has handed on as a lot info as he can from the expertise in Halifax.

“I understand how vital each play is, each second of the sport is,” he stated. “Each little second actually issues. It could not appear to be it, however each blocked shot, each backcheck, each faceoff issues … each little second counts.”

Letang stated staying in these moments — and coping with the tough ones with a degree head — will likely be key.

“We all know what we’ll come up in opposition to,” he stated. “We all know the groups we’ll face, we all know it is in Europe, we all know the depth, we all know how vital these little moments are.

“If we simply keep centered and keep true to that id, we’ll be wonderful.”

An id, not less than in line with everybody inside Canada’s setup, that begins with being relentless.

Late roster adjustments, exhibition loss to U.S. 

Canada added defencemen Jorian Donovan and Ty Nelson to its roster for the world junior hockey championship Saturday after shedding a few vital members of the blue line.

They substitute defencemen Tristan Luneau and Tanner Molendyk, who won’t take part on this planet juniors resulting from damage.

On Saturday, Lane Hutson scored the extra time winner as the US defeated Canada 6-5 in a tune-up.

Hutson skated up the ice throughout the 3-on-3 additional interval and misplaced the puck to Canada ahead Owen Beck earlier than stealing it proper again and scoring to ice the sport at 3:21.

Ryan Leonard scored twice, whereas Quinn Finley, Sam Rinzel and Oliver Moore additionally scored for the US. Hutson had an help to go along with his game-winner and Isaac Howard pitched in with two helpers.

Celebrini and Owen Allard had a aim and an help every for Canada. Geekie, Savoie and Jordan Dumais additionally scored.

Canada roster

Forwards:

  • Owen Allard
  • Owen Beck
  • Macklin Celebrini
  • Easton Cowan
  • Nate Danielson
  • Jordan Dumais
  • Conor Geekie
  • Fraser Minten
  • Carson Rehkopf
  • Matthew Savoie
  • Matthew Wooden
  • Brayden Yager

Defencemen:

  • Oliver Bonk
  • Jorian Donovan
  • Jake Furlong
  • Maveric Lamoureux
  • Denton Mateychuk
  • Ty Nelson
  • Noah Warren

Goaltenders:

  • Scott Ratzlaff
  • Mathis Rousseau
  • Samuel St-Hilaire

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