Another Game, Another Record For Connor Bedard; Canada Dominates Sweden With 5-1 Victory

Photo by Andy Devlin/ Getty Images
Photo by Andy Devlin/ Getty Images

The building was absolutely electric even before the players took to the ice. While Canada’s goaltending had been rather shaky through the first three games of the tournament, they elected to go with Thomas Milic in this New Year’s Eve showdown against Sweden. The energy from the crowd went straight to the legs of team Canada as they were flying the second the puck was dropped. During the first shift, Canada got in on the forecheck and laid a couple of hits. That shift was followed by a dominant shift from Connor Bedard, Logan Stankoven, and Joshua Roy. That trio would connect as Roy finished it off for his third of the tournament to make it 1-0 Canada just 57 seconds into the game. If everyone thought the crowd was loud before the goal, they reached a whole new level the second that puck went in the net. Canada was given their first power play less than two minutes into the game as Pettersson was called for roughing.

Coming into this game, Canada’s power play was 11 for 16 overall in the tournament. They wasted very little time once again as Shane Wright made an absolutely gorgeous pass to Othmann, who made no mistake making it 2-0 Canada with his second of the tournament. Sweden didn’t generate their first shot on goal till 10 minutes into the opening frame. Canada’s top line went to work once again as Connor Bedard found Logan Stankoven, who then put it on a tee for Tyson Hinds, who let the one-timer rip, making it 3-0 Canada with his second of the tournament. Shortly after the goal, Ostapchuk of Canada was called for a five minute kneeing major and was ejected from the game with 7:27 to go in the period. The fans were obviously upset with that call, and they made sure the refs knew it. Canada was doing a fantastic job killing off the five minute major, but Sweden finally broke through with 1:12 remaining in the power play with a goal from Ludvig Jansson, who let a seeing-eye shot go from the point that found its way past Milic. However, that would be the only goal during the major, as Canada managed to kill off the remaining 1:12 after the Swedish goal. Connor Bedard went into the offensive zone and laid a massive hit on Oskar Pettersson. The crowd loved it. In the dying seconds of the period, Sandin-Pellikka was called for an interference minor. Sweden didn’t touch the puck before the period ended, so Canada would have a full two minute power play to open the second period. With his three assists in the period, Connor Bedard was now just one point back of Eric Lindros’ 31 points for most in world junior history for Canada. Shots on goal in the opening frame were 14-5 in favor of Canada. 

As lethal as Canada’s power play has been in this tournament, they were unable to capitalize with the man advantage this time, and they only managed a single shot on goal. The longer this game went on, the more it was evident that these two teams did not like each other. After almost every whistle, there was a scrum of some sort with a lot of pushing from both teams. Gaucher was called for holding 4:05 into the second period giving Canada their fourth power play of the game. Canada’s penalty killers with yet another fantastic job successfully killing off the Swedish man advantage. The ever-dangerous Connor Bedard went on the attack once again, and by doing so, he forced Odelius to take a hooking minor, sending Canada back to the power play. Full credit to Sweden, as they did a great job shutting down Canada’s power play again. With 7:23 to go in the middle frame, Connor Bedard laid another massive hit on Lysell, sending him flying and sending the crowd into a frenzy yet again. Fantilli and Dean both got in on the forecheck and laid massive hits, respectively. Sweden went the other way with a three-on-one where Milic was forced to come up with his best save so far, arguably in the entire tournament, as he went post to post, making a huge toe save and keeping it 3-1.

With 4:40 remaining in the middle frame, Allan was called for tripping on Lysell, giving Sweden their fifth power play of the game. Fifty-three seconds remained in the Swedish power play when Olen Zellweger was called for holding, giving Sweden a five on three. For such an excellent skating defenceman, that was a very uncharacteristic penalty for Zellweger to take. Somehow Gaucher almost broke in all alone, but he couldn’t catch up to the puck fast enough. He managed to block the goalie clearing attempt, and he almost finished it with a wrap-around attempt, but somehow, it stayed out. Despite all the action, Canada managed to get out of the five-on-three unscathed. Before this game started, I mentioned how Canada’s goaltending was quite shaky through the tournament’s first three games. However, as this game went on, Thomas Milic seemed to be gaining confidence with each save he made. At the end of the second period, the score remained 3-1 Canada. At the buzzer, Pettersson got his hands up and got a solid shot in on Othmann. Full credit to Othmann for not responding or giving any sort of reaction whatsoever. Shots on goal after 40 minutes were 28-16 in favor of Canada. 

Canada wasted no time making it 4-1 as they struck 35 seconds into the third period. Dylan Guenther made a beautiful pass to Brennan Othmann, who ripped home his second goal of the game and third of the tournament. Colton Dach laid a heavy hit in his own zone. Unfortunately, he got the worst of it by far, as you could literally hear him screaming in agony as he crawled to the Canadian bench and immediately made his way down the tunnel. It was hard to tell, but it looked like it could be his shoulder. 4:55 into the third period, Gaucher made a great play by keeping his feet moving and forcing Sandin-Pellikka into taking an interference penalty, giving Canada their fifth power play. Full credit to the Swedes, as they had done a fantastic job shutting down Canada’s power play all night. It wasn’t for lack of chances, though, as Canada generated five shots with that most recent man advantage, but they could not capitalize. In the first eight minutes of the third period, Canada was outshooting Sweden 10-0. There wasn’t a whole lot happening in the third period. Canada did a fantastic job shutting Sweden down and barely letting them enter the Canadian zone. Connor Bedard found Kevin Korchinski, who fired his first of the tournament short side past Lindbom. With that assist, Bedard officially tied Lindros’ record for most points for Canada at the world juniors with 31. Simply a fantastic game from team Canada from start to finish, just an outstanding way for this team to close out 2022. Victor Stjernborg was named player of the game for team Sweden, while Connor Bedard was named player of the game for team Canada to the surprise of absolutely no one. With their victory tonight, Canada is set to take on Slovakia on Monday in the quarterfinals at 6:30 PM EST.

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