Bedard shines as Canada defeats Latvia 5-2 at world junior hockey championship
Connor Bedard had a goal and an assist as Canada opened its World Junior Hockey Championship with a decisive 5-2 win over Latvia on Wednesday.
Ridly Greig and William Dufour each scored and provided an assist, while Lukas Cormier and Olen Zellweger also found the back of the net. Captain Mason McTavish had two assists for Canada (1-0-0).
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Rainers Darzins and Bogdans Hodass scored for the Latvians, who were coming off a 6-1 loss to Finland on Tuesday.
Canadian Sebastian Cossa made 24 saves and Patriks Berzins stopped 39 of 44 shots for Latvia (0-2-0).
The Canadians will continue the round robin on Thursday when they face Slovakia (0-0-1).
The 2022 tournament will be held in August after the original iteration was canceled on December 29 after just four days, as rising COVID-19 cases among players and officials forced matches to be cancelled.
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Dufour gave the Canadians some respite with 5:16 left in the third period. The New York Islanders prospect picked up a deft pass from Greig and sent a quick shot past Berzins to give his team a 5-2 lead.
Canada erupted with a three-goal performance in the second but found themselves struggling in the final period due to a series of unruly penalties.
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Latvia got nine seconds in the five-on-three game midway through the third when Greig was called off for hanging after Kent Johnson had already been sent into the box for late play.
The Canadians held off two men and Cossa held the advantage with a series of timely saves.
Earlier in the period, Latvia cut the deficit to 4-2 on the power play after Greig was called off for tripping.
Just four seconds into the power play, Hodas, a defenseman for the Medicine Hat Tigers, fired a shot from the top of the face-off circle. net.
Greig capped off a big center frame by collecting a pass from Dufour along the boards for an odd run and pushing a puck past Berzins at 16:16.
A power-play goal gave the Canadians a three-goal lead after Latvian captain Ralfs Bergmanis was called off for slashing.
Bedard set up the play with a no-look back pass to Zellweger at the blue line. The defender rolled up and fired a rocket into traffic, finding the back of the net 12:17 into the second.
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Less than a minute earlier, Cormier had scored with the man advantage after Dans Locmelis was called off for roughing.
Joshua Roy calmed a bouncing puck and fed it to Cormier, who sent it past Berzins from the top of the face-off circle.
Canada’s power play looked in trouble on its first attempt at the tournament earlier in the period.
The man advantage saw Cossa almost send a puck into his own net while trying to clear and Johnson came within inches of scoring an own goal. The host nation turned the puck over several times and Latvia recorded a pair of shorthanded shots.
The Canadians went 1-for-4 on the power play on Wednesday and Latvia was 1-for-5.
Canada kept Berzins busy throughout the first period, beating Latvia 18-4 on shot.
The host nation dominated the game, but Latvia scored the equalizer with less than two minutes remaining in the first period. Darzins shot up and off the side of Cossa’s stick to make it 1-1.
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Bedard opened the scoring 7:31 into the game, firing a shot through a pair of Latvian defenders and over Berzins’ glove from the top of the crease.
Bedard, 17, a forward for the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats, is an early seed to be selected first in the 2023 NHL Draft.
Earlier Tuesday, Winnipeg Jets prospect Daniel Torgersson scored twice as Sweden (1-0-0) cruised to a 3-2 win over Switzerland (0-1-0) in Group B .
The last game of the day is a clash between Germany (0-1-0) and Austria (0-0-0).
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