Team Canada's Couturier exposes Swiss defence
Scores, adds 3 assists in 8-0 pasting in world junior hockey exhibition
The tests are only going to get harder for Canada's world junior hockey team, but the players passed the first one with flying colours.
Playing the first of three pre-tournament games before a packed house Monday in Oshawa, Ont., the Canadians jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first five minutes in cruising to an 8-0 win over Switzerland.
Sean Couturier, the youngest player on the Canadian squad, had a goal and three assists, including a helper on Marcus Foligno's goal just 1:25 into the game.
Afterward, to a man, the Canadian players spoke of the team's depth, which many believe to be its biggest strength.
"All four lines contributed and that's what we need to win," said Couturier, the only Canadian player yet to be drafted into the NHL. "We were blocking shots, chipping pucks out and creating a lot of things on offence with our forecheck. It was a good night for us."
There were eight different goal-scorers for Canada, with 13 players registering at least a point.
Foligno, Louis Leblanc, Tyson Barrie, Casey Cizikas and Carter Ashton each had a goal and an assist, while Jaden Schwartz and Calvin de Haan, captain of the hometown Oshawa Generals, also scored.
"It was an unbelievable feeling. I got a standing ovation there for a bit, and it feels great," said de Haan, who pointed to his parents in the crowd after scoring Canada's seventh goal late in the second period. "It was just a great feeling."
Foligno opened the scoring on a rebound, sliding a shot past Swiss goalie Benjamin Conz from a difficult angle.
There were several nice passing plays resulting in goals as well, including one-timers by Cizikas to make the score 3-0 4:51 into the game and Barrie to make it 4-0 on a power play 4:25 into the second.
Schwartz, Leblanc and Couturier all ripped pinpoint wrist shots past an overwhelmed Conz, who was pulled after allowing seven goals on 28 shots through two periods.
Lukas Meili was excellent in relief, allowing only one goal on 18 shots.
Ashton scored that 8:45 into the third period to make it 8-0 after barging to the net and poking it home.
Mark Visentin wasn't tested much in earning the shutout for Canada, facing only 20 shots, few of them dangerous.
"I think we worked our gameplan to perfection," said Canadian captain Ryan Ellis, who won gold in 2009 and silver last year. "We're not super, super skilled, so I think just keeping it simple is the key."
Canada has exhibition games against Sweden on Tuesday in Toronto and Finland on Thursday in Kitchener, Ont., before opening the tournament in Buffalo, N.Y., on Boxing Day against Russia.
"I think there's a lot of excitement," said Ellis. "In the past, there's kind of been a lot expected, and I think there's a lot of doubters out there this year.
"I think there's a lot of excitement and a lot of pride going into it this year."