Truculent forward Zack Kassian will miss Canada's next game after he received an automatic one-game suspension for an open-ice hit on Czech Republic defenceman Petr Senkerik on Tuesday.
Canadian head coach Dave Cameron programmed his players, including Kassian, not to dispute the call made by referees Georgij Jablukow of Germany and Antti Boman of Finland. But it was clear from Cameron's reaction after the five-minute match penalty was called amid the 7-2 Canadian victory that the coach was irate over the officials' decision.
But afterwards Cameron acted like Sergeant Schultz of Hogan's Heroes fame. Remember the fictional television character's "I know nothing" act? That was Cameron after the game, especially when queried as to the nature and seriousness of possible knee injuries to forward Jaden Schwartz and defenceman Calvin de Haan.
Kassian could still receive further suspension if tournament disciplinary judge Dan Marouelli, the former NHL referee, deems so.
"It doesn't matter what I think," Cameron said. "I have no input into it. There is a certain protocol that will take place."
Marouelli has 24 hours to rule on possible further discipline for the 19-year-old Kassian, a Windsor Spitfire forward who has a history of dirty hits in junior. He was suspended for 20 games for a headshot on Barrie Colts' Matt Kennedy a year ago.
A replay of Tuesday's incident indicated that the six-foot-three, 226-pound Kassian's shoulder may have made contact with the chin of the 6-foot, 187-pound Czech player during the neutral zone hit. Senkerik was knocked unconscious and was taken off the ice on a stretcher.
Czech assistant coach Jiri Fischer revealed afterwards that Senkerik was awake and that he would likely be examined in hospital later on Tuesday evening.
"I just finished my check," Kassian said. "I was just trying to be physical.
"I just hope he is alright. I hope everything works out."
Was Kassian worried about further discipline?
"It is out of my hands," he said.
The Canadian coaching staff had a chat with Kassian as to the importance of staying on the right side of the edge back in the summer. Before the tournament, the message from Cameron and the assistant coaches was the importance of on-ice discipline. They didn't want to see the Canadians take more than four minor penalties in any game.
"We all play on the edge," Kassian replied, when asked about his style of play. "It is part of the game.
"You work hard to make the team and you want to be out there with your teammates."
When asked to comment on the Kassian hit, most of the Canadian players stated that either they didn't see it or the play happened too fast.
The Kassian incident overshadowed strong outings from captain Ryan Ellis and returnee centre Brayden Schenn. Even though Canada has had 11 different players score in two games, Ellis and Schenn have been brilliant. Schenn had a goal and four assists, while Ellis checked in with a goal and three assists.
Captain Canada assists
Los Angeles Kings forward Ryan Smyth continues to contribute to the Canadian junior cause, even though he last suited up for Canada as a junior 16 years ago. Schenn, who enjoyed a five-point game against the Czech Republic, has leaned on his Kings teammate for advice this season.
The two sat beside each other in the Los Angeles practice dressing room and Smyth, who is known as Captain Canada because of the many times he has represented and captained Canada at various levels, was there earlier this season when Schenn was sent down to the AHL.
"I've said it before, Ryan Smyth, he's helped me a lot," Schenn said. "I sat beside him in the practice room, was stallmates with him.
"He was kind of in the same situation when he was 19," added Schenn, whose older brother patrols the blue-line for the Toronto Maple Leafs. "[Smyth] wasn't playing and he got sent to the minors and then actually got called back up and stayed as a 19-year-old.
"A little different than me but kind of the same situation."
Schenn played eight games for the Kings and seven more for the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL before being returned to junior with the Brandon Wheat Kings. So this is his fourth team this season, but the speed of the NHL game has made the adjustment to the world junior level seamless. Schenn has been in on eight of Canada's 13 goals in two games.
The Canadian centre remarked that after his team's tournament-opening 6-3 win over Russia, that he received a "good job" text from Smyth.
"With the experience he has under his belt, anything he says, I listen," Schenn said. "It's good to have a mentor like that watching me and seeing how I'm doing."
Special teams deliver
The Czechs had an opportunity to push themselves back into the game after Kassian's five-minute match penalty. Canada held a 2-1 advantage at that point in the second period.
The best chance the Czech Republic had was turned aside by Canadian goalie Olivier Roy and his teammates went down the ice the other way to score a shorthanded goal from Louis Leblanc, set up by Schenn.
"There was a momentum swing there," Schenn said.
After two games Canada has surrendered two power-play goals, but has checked in with seven goals while up a man and one shorthanded marker. The two third-period power-play goals from Canadian defencemen Tyson Barrie and Jared Cowen were on 5-on-3 advantages.
Canada isn't the only team in the tournament concerned with injuries in Buffalo. The United States was without Brock Nelson and Jeremy Morin — both out with undisclosed upper-body injuries — for their game against Slovakia on Tuesday.
Sweden has been concerned with persistent ankle problems from talented forward Gabriel Landeskog. The Kitchener Rangers forward sat out Sweden's game against Russia on Tuesday