HAMILTON, ON ? Canada's National Junior Team is on a roll as it heads to Ottawa for the 2009 World Junior Championship.(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com)
Cody Hodgson (Markham, ON/Brampton, OHL) had three assists - giving him nine points in three pre-competition games ? in helping pace the Canadians to a 7-0 over Slovakia on Tuesday night at Copps Coliseum.
John Tavares (Oakville, ON/Oshawa, OHL) and Zach Boychuk (Airdrie, AB/Lethbridge, WHL) each scored a pair of goals, while Jordan Eberle (Regina, SK/Regina, WHL), Patrice Cormier (Cap-Pelé, NB/Rimouski, QMJHL) and Jamie Benn (Victoria, BC/Kelowna, WHL) also found the scoresheet as Canada struck four times on the power play and once shorthanded in the win.
Chet Pickard (Winnipeg, MB/Tri-City, WHL) went the distance in goal for the 20-save shutout as Canada finished its pre-tournament schedule with an unblemished 3-0 record.
Canada is the four-time defending gold medalist and begins its latest title defence Friday versus the Czech Republic at Ottawa's SBP Arena (7:30 p.m. EST/4:30 p.m. PST). Canada is looking for its second run of five straight golds ? it was world champion every year from 1993 to 1997.
Not surprisingly, it was the power play that gave Canada its opening goal, as Eberle converted the rebound of a Hodgson shot at the 7:30 mark of the opening frame.
Despite outshooting the Slovakians 41-20 overall it was the Europeans who held advantage in shots on goal in the first period, 12-9.
Tavares made it 2-0 on another Canadian power play early in the middle frame and Boychuk pushed the lead to three late in the period, taking a long pass from Alex Pietrangelo (King City, ON/Niagara, OHL) and beating Slovakian netminder Jaroslav Janus, who was under siege in the final 40 minutes, facing 32 shots.
Canada?s special teams shone in the final 20 minutes, as Cormier converted shorthanded and Tavares and Boychuk added power play markers.
Tavares? goal was arguably the prettiest of the pre-competition, as the former lacrosse star batted the puck out of mid-air to himself, and then batted it past Janus for a 5-0 lead.
Ryan Ellis (Freelton, ON/Windsor, OHL), PK Subban (Toronto, ON/Belleville, OHL) and Tyler Ennis (Edmonton, AB/Medicine Hat, WHL) all finished with a pair of assists for Canada, who will travel to the nation?s capital Wednesday in preparation for Friday?s tournament opener.