Boxing Day signalled the beginning of a Holiday tradition in Canada with the World Junior Championships in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
As expected, Canada was easily able to defeat Latvia 16-0 in their first game of the tournament. Over the next few weeks, Canada will now continue on their quest towards winning a sixth straight World Junior gold medal.
If the Carolina Hurricanes continue to struggle this year, fans of the team should keep their eyes on OHL forward Taylor Hall.
The projected number one overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry draft was dominant from the start of the first period as the under matched Latvian team was chasing him around the ice during the entire game. Hall’s ability to shield opponents away from the puck was evident from the start of the game. Despite facing a less than superior team, Hall did nothing to hurt his draft stock during the opening night of the tournament.
Along with his reputation for being a great goal scorer, Hall is also proving to be a great playmaker as well. Normally adversaries in the OHL, both Hall and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Nazem Kadri seemed to have a lot of chemistry while playing on a line together against Latvia.
Kadri was the beneficiary of some great passes by Hall including a nice looking second period goal off a two on one odd man rush. While it is early on, Canada looks to have a quality pairing with Hall and Kadri as it will be interesting to see how effective the duo is against some tougher completion.
There was no shortage of physical play either.
Canadian captain and New Jersey Devils draft pick Patrice Cormier had some bone crunching hits throughout the entire game. The rest of the team followed suit and the physical play really allowed the fans in Saskatchewan to get involved in the action. Much of the physical tone for the game was set in the first few minutes of the first period.
Other key notes from the game included all of Kadri, Brandon Kozun and Patrice Cormier ending the game with two goals each. Perhaps the best praise of the night should go to Nashville Predators draft pick Gabriel Bourque who ended up with seven points and was awarded player of the game honours for Canada. Shots on goal at the end of the night were 66-10 in favour of Canada.
After having Sunday off, Canada will prepare to face Switzerland on Monday afternoon.