World juniors: Canada falls to U.S. in tourney opener
America's Belpedio, Matthews seal win with goals 41 seconds apart
Dylan Strome and his teammates know what they need to do: Shoot the puck.
Strome and Matt Barzal scored in Canada's 4-2 loss to the United States on Saturday in both teams' first preliminary round game of the world junior hockey championship.
Strome, who is Canada's top-line centre at the international tournament, kept his eyes on his feet while answering most questions after the loss. He was clear in what he and his teammates needed to do to bounce back from the loss, however.
"We didn't get enough shots through," Strome told reporters in the Helsinki Ice Hall. "I don't know what the final shots were, but it was 15 after two periods. That's not enough in a game like that.
"We're trying to make too good a pass or too good a play."
Barzal, who scored on a broken play when Julien Gauthier knocked a rebound to him from his knees, echoed Strome's sentiments almost word for word.
"We just got to work on scoring goals and shooting the puck," said Barzal. "I think those are two of the things that we had chances and we had opportunities to shoot and we passed it up. We just got to work on bearing down and scoring goals."
Louis Belpedio and Auston Matthews had back-to-back goals late in the third period for the United States (1-0), while Colin White and Zach Werenski also scored. Alex Nedeljkovic made 25 saves for the win.
Mason McDonald stopped 21 shots in net for Canada (0-1), which won the world junior championship last year in Toronto. Canada has Sunday off before facing Denmark on Monday.
Head coach Dave Lowry says that at the off-day practice shooting drills will be a priority.
"We'd like more shots, period," said Lowry. "Tonight we had the puck in good spots and we didn't get it to the net. We were looking for perfect plays. We will continue to hammer home that to score you have to get pucks to the net."
Even the largely Canadian crowd in attendance wanted to see their team shooting more. Moments before Strome scored his power-play goal, fans started to shout "SHOOT!," with the crowd jumping to its feet when he snapped the puck past Nedeljkovic.
"I had a couple of good chances and I buried one of them," said Strome. "I've got to put more pucks on the net and if I'm in front of the net on the power play, I've got to get there and do my best to tip them or put them in."
Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Mitch Marner, who assisted on Strome's goal, agreed that they need to keep shooting to turn luck their way.
"I thought we had a lot of good chances," said Marner. "We just have to bear down in front of the net. Nothing was just going our way."
Barzal and his teammates were all struck with how many fans were in attendance, but he noted they tend to ignore when the crowd calls for them to shoot.
"We're pretty in tuned to the game," said Barzal. "We're not listening too close to what the fans are saying but the energy they had tonight was pretty crazy and it's something I won't forget."
Alex DeBrincat earned a five-minute major and a game misconduct after spearing Travis Konecny when the play was already whistled dead with 2:40 left in the first period.
"Big kill going into the second," said White, who is DeBrincat's roommate for the tournament. "I thought it gave us a lot of momentum when we killed that off. Even though they scored, we still had a lot of confidence there because we killed that.