By Harlan Nemerofsky
A Team Canada World Junior squad, featuring the likes of 16-year-old phenom Connor McDavid and Minnesota Wild defenceman Matthew Dumba, defeated the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Toronto Selects 3-0 Saturday afternoon at the MasterCard Centre.
McDavid, Josh Anderson and Charles Hudon each had tallies and a goaltending tandem of Zach Fucale and Jake Paterson blanked the Toronto Selects on 20 shots in a rare exhibition game between the two teams.
“When you think about it, we had one practice for an hour long just to go quickly through some things and I thought they picked it up really well,” said Team Canada’s head coach Brent Sutter. “I was pleased with a lot of things we did today.”
The Toronto Selects featured seven of the best players from each of the Toronto universities – York Lions, University of Toronto Varsity Blues and Ryerson Rams – to create its 21-player roster.
The Rams’ seven players included CIS scoring leaders Jamie Wise and Domenic Alberga, fifth-year captain Andrew Buck, goaltender Troy Passingham, and assistant captain Brian Birkhoff.
“They’re all extremely skilled guys,” said Birkhoff of Team Canada. “I thought we gave them a pretty good game but you can just tell that they’re all first-round draft picks for the most part. You can see it out there. I think that’s what it makes it the most fun.”
It was an offensive onslaught by Team Canada, who got 58 pucks through on the CIS three-man goaltending tandem, including 19 on the Varsity Blues’ Garrett Sheehan.
“It was a hornet’s nest to start but I think for the most part, they weren’t too great of scoring opportunities,” said Sheehan. “Our defencemen were doing great, a lot of blocked shots out there and on the penalty kills. I don’t think we gave them too much.”
McDavid began the scoring midway through the second period burying a wrister glove side on York’s goalie Andrew Perugini.
Anderson scored 15 seconds into the third period on the first shot Passingham saw to increase the lead to 2-0 and Hudon would add an empty -netter to seal the deal.
“I felt pretty good out there, the pace was pretty good and they’re obviously a lot older and bigger but I thought I played okay,” said McDavid. “We didn’t give up a whole lot defensively, which is big, and I thought we were good in our own zone, with the exception of a few shifts in the third period.”
The Toronto Selects failed to generate many quality scoring opportunities against a well-disciplined Canadian team and relied heavily on their goaltending trio just to keep them hanging around.
After the game, Birkhoff joked how the Rams, who would normally be at odds with their downtown foes were able to mesh well, though he said it would be short-lived.
“You got to put your rivalries aside for 48 hours and just have fun. But now that this is done, we go back to focusing on Ryerson and what we have to do to beat them.”
The Rams will continue regular season action on Friday, Jan. 3 when they face the Laurier Golden Hawks on the road.
With files from Alan Hudes