Led by four goals from Taylor Raddysh and early composure from Carter Hart in net, Canada beat Latvia 10-2 at the IIHF 2017 World Junior Championship on Thursday for its third win.
Raddysh now has a tournament-leading (tied with Kirill Kaprizov of Russia) five goals as Canada piled it on Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre, although the eventual blowout took some time to materialize.
The first period may have been Canada’s worst of the tournament thus far, outshot 5-2 by winless Latvia five minutes into the game, then Dillon Dube took an interference penalty to make matters worse. It was shortly thereafter Latvia nearly went ahead when Martins Dzierkals hit the post behind Hart, who did his part to weather the early storm.
Unscathed, Canada regrouped and got its first goal from the team’s leading scorer at World Juniors heading into Thursday, Mathew Barzal. Out of the box after serving a cross checking penalty and his country shorthanded, Barzal picked up a bouncing Philippe Myers clearance between a couple of Latvian players along the boards, tapped the puck up the ice to create a breakaway before beating Mareks Mittens with a backhand for his second goal and fifth point of the tournament as Canada led 1-0 at 10:38 of the period.
This was the beginning of Latvia’s bright start quickly derailing into disaster.
Shortly after the next faceoff Latvia lost a player to a hooking minor, an advantage Canada converted with Nicolas Roy scoring his second of the tournament. Myers picked up his second assist of the night on the power play goal, and for Kale Clague his first point on the other helper for 2-0 to Canada.
Another Latvia penalty with a minute before intermission, helped Raddysh to his first of the night and second goal of the tourney, assisted by Thomas Chabot and captain Dylan Strome with just 20 seconds to break. Despite being outplayed in the first half and outshot (10-9) overall during the period, Canada went into first intermission up 3-0.
Back from the break, Raddysh kept pouring it on with another power play goal at 9:11 of the second period that chased Mittens out of the net shortly after it became 4-0 to Canada.
Raddysh completed the hat-trick three minutes later as new goaltender Gustavs Grigals received a rude welcome. After an offensive zone faceoff win by Barzal, Mathieu Joseph found Clague at the blue line. His floating shot from the point was touched down by Raddysh, guiding the puck between Grigals pads and into the net for 5-0 Canada.
Just 40 seconds later Barzal got his second of the game, followed by Anthony Cirelli and Michael McLeod scoring – all in the second period – and it was 8-0 for the Canadians.
Outshot 20-7 in the second period, Latvia managed to get on the board at 17:58 of the frame when Renars Krastenbergs made it an 8-1 scoreline.
The third started with Raddysh’s fourth goal just 2:07 into the period, deflecting a Noah Juulsen point shot past Grigals for a 9-1 lead. With that goal Raddysh joined Mario Lemieux (1983), Simon Gagne (1999) and Brayden Schenn (2011) as Canadian players who scored four times in one game at World Juniors. Raddysh also picked up an assist on the night, giving him six points from three games, same as Barzal (three goals, three assists), while Strome registered three assists to now lead the team in scoring (two goals, five assists) with seven points.
Latvia got its second of the game from Dzierkals at 7:59 of the third, before Julien Gauthier got another one for Canada with 1:55 remaining in the game, where the score finally settled at 10-2 for Canada.
The Americans have the same number of points as Canada and the New Year’s Eve game will determine which team goes into the quarterfinals in first place.
All World Juniors games are live on TSN.