Playing for Canada at ACC a treat for Cizikas
Islanders prospect helps team to world junior exhibition win over Swedes
There were no waffles tossed on the ice. There were no jeers for the home team. There were no chants to fire the coach.
This couldn't be the Air Canada Centre, the home of the hapless Toronto Maple Leafs, could it? Oh, but it was.
For one evening, there was joy in Mudville. Subbing in for the Maple Leafs was the Canadian under-20 team, and it gave the long-time suffering Maple Leafs faithful something to celebrate, an unglamorous 4-1 win over Sweden on Tuesday in a warm-up game for the world junior tournament.
2 games rescheduled
Two exhibition world junior hockey games have been pushed back a day due to equipment problems.
Slovakia and Norway were scheduled to meet Tuesday night in Jamestown, N.Y., while Germany was to face the Czech Republic in Rochester, N.Y.
However, both the Norwegian and German teams had their equipment delayed in arriving in the wake of severe winter weather in Europe.
As a result, both games will be played Wednesday in their respective sites.
Sweden has also experienced similar equipment problems ahead of the world junior hockey championship, but apparently has managed to pick up what it needs.
Sweden played Canada in Toronto on Tuesday night, dropping a 4-1 decision.
The world junior tournament begins Boxing Day in Buffalo.
— Canadian Press
For the only Toronto-area player on the team, Casey Cizikas, it was blast. The Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors captain wasn’t afraid to admit that he cheers for the Maple Leafs.
He is a frequent visitor to the ACC for Maple Leafs matches and on Tuesday he had approximately 35 family members and friends in the stands.
"It was a special evening for myself," he said. "I definitely grew up a Maple Leafs fan. To get a chance to step on the ice here and play in front of these fans was special."
The 19-year-old Cizikas, a New York Islanders prospect, has the distinction of playing for Canadian and Mississauga head coach Dave Cameron during the season, too. Cizikas stated this can be a positive as well as a negative.
"He knows what I’m good at and the areas I’m bad at and need to work at," Cizikas explained. "So there is definitely is some balance. But with him as our coach, you can’t go wrong."
March to sin bin
The game against Sweden was full of penalties. Canada had eight power-play opportunities to Sweden’s four. The only special teams goal came off a rebound poked in by Canada’s Zack Kassian during a two-man advantage in the second period.
"I thought our power play was like our game, sluggish and sloppy," Cameron said.
Canada led 1-0 after the first period on a goal from Brayden Schenn, whose brother Luke plays for the Maple Leafs, and was up 2-0 following 40 minutes.
After Sweden made 2-1 midway through the third period, Ryan Johansen and Cody Eakin, with an empty netter, scored for Canada.
Who's No. 1?
Cameron wasn’t tipping his hand as to who will be his No. 1 goalie when Canada opens the world junior tournament against Russia on Sunday in Buffalo. Mark Visentin, who plays for the Niagara IceDogs, recorded the shutout in the 8-0 win over Switzerland on Monday, and Olivier Roy of Acadie-Bathurst made 29 saves against Sweden.
Cameron would not even divulge which goalie would start against Finland in the final exhibition game in Kitchener on Thursday.
Sweden's top prospect
This game was a chance to see Sweden defenceman Adam Larsson, who is making a bid to go, if not first overall in the 2011 NHL entry draft, likely in the top-five. Larsson wears Nik Lidstrom's No. 5 and at age 18 quarterbacks Sweden's power play.
He plays with the men for Skelleftea AIK in the Swedish Elitserien, the same team his father Robert suited up for in the mid-1980s. Robert was a Los Angeles Kings draft pick, but never played in the NHL.