Smith-Pelly leads juniors in exhibition win vs. Switzerland

Devante Smith-Pelly scored twice Thursday as Canada hammered Switzerland 7-1 in a IIFH world junior hockey championship pre-tournament game.
Team Canada forward Devante Smith-Pelly, left, reacts with teammate Mark Stone after scoring against Team Switzerland during third period. (The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette)

Don Hay returned to the site of Canada's 1995 junior gold-medal triumph, and while the atmosphere at the ENMAX Centrium wasn't the same this time the visit still brought back fond memories for the Canadian coach.

Devante Smith-Pelly scored twice Thursday as Canada hammered Switzerland 7-1 in a IIFH world junior hockey championship pre-tournament game.

"There's a lot of memories from '95, winning he gold medal was the main one," said Hay, who was behind the bench in 1995 as well.

"We won the gold medal [in the round-robin tournament] while we were in the dressing room, which was unique, but we had to go out and win to become the first team to go undefeated in the tournament, which we did, so we got to celebrate twice which was also special."

The Canadians were full marks for the victory over the Swiss, who didn't have the depth to handle a Canadian team expected to challenge for gold.

"It was a good game to build on," Hay said. "We had a great start, got a little lax in the second period and played in spurts in the third. We need to get rid of those spurts and need more consistent play."

Boone Jenner, Mark Stone, Freddie Hamilton, Tanner Pearson and Ryan Strome also scored for Canada. Jaden Schwartz, named Canada's captain earlier Thursday, added two assists.

Samuel Walser replied for Switzerland, which allowed seven goals for the second straight night. Switzerland lost an exhibition game to the United States 7-2 on Wednesday.

Canada improved to 2-0 in exhibition action and wraps up its pre-tournament schedule with a game against Sweden on Friday.

Canada outshot Switzerland 24-7 in the first period and took a 3-1 lead into the dressing room.

"We were more physical and did a good job of driving to the net," Hay said.

Swiss star Sven Bartschi said a string of three straight penalties hurt in the first period, but overall they weren't in the game.

"There wasn't enough room for us," he said. "We made some big mistakes in our zone and you can't do that against Canada. They came hard at us."

Bartschi feels the Swiss will improve.

"I'm happy this wasn't the start of the tournament," he said. "We made a lot of mistakes and we didn't skate with them. There's a lot of things to improve on and work on in the next two days."

Stone, who also had a pair of assists, was an offensive threat all night. He scored the Canada's third goal on a rebound in the slot and then made a pair of smooth passes to set up Hamilton in the second period and Smith-Pelly on the power play to open the third.

"I was where I want to be, in front," he said. "I have a big body and it's my job to bang in the rebounds. But I also want to make plays. It's the same as scoring."

Stone, like his head coach, feels the Canadians haven't reached their potential.

"I thought we were more comfortable in this being our second game, but we're still looking at playing 60 minutes," he said, adding the team has yet to create an identity.

"It's still early, but we want to be a big strong, physical team that's solid in all three zones."

For the most part the Canadians did a good job in their zone, limiting the Swiss to 25 shots and only a few of those on the dangerous side.

And, except for a deflection by Walser at 12:58 of the first period Canadian netminder Scott Wedgewood was perfect. He made a close-in save in the second period then slid across to rob Tanner Richard late in the third for his best stops.

"He didn't have a lot of work and played well," said Hay, who still expects to start Mark Visentin when Canada opens the tournament against Finland in Edmonton on Monday.

Smith-Pelly opened the scoring on the power play at 9:28 of the first period before Walser tied it. However, Jenner and Stone connected before the end of the period.

Hamilton connected in the second with Smith-Pelly, Pearson and Strome scoring in the third.

The Canadians finished with 51 shots on Swiss goalie Tim Wolf, who kept the game as close as it was.

The Swiss took eight of 12 penalties.

"I liked the two goals we got on the power play, but we still can do a better job of establishing more shots on goal and getting inside more," Hay said.