Owen Power’s hat trick lifted Canada to a 6-3 win over the Czechs to open the world men’s under-20 hockey championship Sunday in Edmonton.
Power of Mississauga, Ont., became the first Canadian defenceman to score three goals in a single game at the world junior men’s championship.
The first overall pick in this year’s NHL entry draft by the Buffalo Sabres scored a pair of power-play goals for Canada in the second period to break a 3-3 deadlock.
Cole Perfetti had three assists, Mason McTavish had a goal and an assist and defencemen Donovan Sebrango and Olen Zellweger also scored for the host country at Rogers Place.
Canada’s starting goaltender Dylan Garand, who signed an entry-level contract with the New York Rangers last week, made 14 saves for the win.
Michal Gut had a goal and an assist and Stanislav Svozil and Pavel Novak also scored for what is now Czechia after the Czech hockey federation’s adoption of the country’s name change from “Czech Republic’.
Jakub Malek, a New Jersey Devils prospect, turned away 30 shots in the loss.
Canada is arguably in the easier of the two pools alongside Czechia, Finland, Germany and Austria. Defending champion United States, perennial contender Russia, Sweden, Slovakia and Switzerland comprise Pool B in Red Deer, Alta.
Canada takes on Austria on Tuesday with a game the following day against Germany before capping the preliminary round on New Year’s Eve against the Finns.
In other games Sunday, Finland opened with a 3-1 win over Germany and the Swedes downed Russia 6-3 in Red Deer.
The quarterfinals Jan. 2 and semifinals Jan. 4 precede the medal games Jan. 5 in Edmonton.
Canada fell 2-0 to the Americans in the 2021 final in Edmonton. That tournament was held without spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tickets were sold to the 2022 edition, but the provincial government limited capacity for sporting events to 50 per cent five days before it started. That caps attendance at Edmonton’s Rogers Place at a maximum of 9,320 and 3,555 in Red Deer’s Centrium.
While chants of “Let’s Go Canada” erupted at Rogers Place, the arena wasn’t half full for Canada’s opener Sunday. Power’s third goal produced a smattering of hats on the ice.
Zellweger scored a power-play goal at 13:22 of the third period with a wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle beating Malek far side.
Canada made the most of a two-man advantage in the second period with Power’s one-timer from the top of the circle beating Malek’s glove at 8:50.
Power completed his hat trick tapping in a rebound during a goal-mouth scramble for another power-play goal at 10:15.
The Czechs lost assistant captain David Jiricek to an injured left knee in the second period when the defenceman collided with Canada’s Will Cuylle.
Canadian head coach Dave Cameron called a timeout in the first period when the Czechs struck twice in a 51-second span to lead 3-1.
Sebrango and Power then pulled the host country even. An all-alone Sebrango converted a backhand feed from Perfetti off the rush to score with 29 seconds remaining in the first.
When Power put the puck on net after collecting a long rebound, his shot deflected off Malek and into the net 23 seconds after the Czechs took a two-goal lead.
Svozil, a defenceman with the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats, deked Zellweger and beat Garand short-side. Kelowna Rockets forward Novak scored a power-play goal with a one-timer from the top of the faceoff circle.
Gut’s shot over Garand’s glove hit the goal camera and came out so quickly that video review was needed to rule it a Czechia goal at 7:42.
McTavish circled the offensive zone with the puck before letting a sharp-angled shot go that beat Malek far side four minutes after the opening faceoff.
THE CANADIAN PRESS