By Daniel Rocchi
Team Canada’s national junior team defeated a team of Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) All-Stars 6-0 Sunday afternoon at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
It was the second win in as many days for Team Canada, who won 10-3 on Saturday night against the same players from Ryerson, the University of Toronto and York.
The ice seemed titled from the opening faceoff, as Team Canada outshot their opponents 45-22. The all-stars were unable to sustain any offensive zone presence and the shots they did manage barely challenged goaltender Eric Comrie, who made 22-saves in the shutout.
“It was pretty much 22 dump-ins tonight,” Comrie said. “I think we have one of the best defensive cores you could wish for right there.”
Team Canada got on the board early, when defenceman and Carolina first-round pick Haydn Fleury finished a nice pass from Ottawa prospect Nick Paul with a shot from his knee near the bottom of the right circle. Jake Virtanen, who had three assists in Team Canada’s 10-3 win on Saturday, picked up a secondary assist on the goal.
The juniors made it 2-0 barely 90 seconds later, when Anaheim prospect Nick Ritchie found Tampa Bay third-round pick Brayden Point alone in front with a pass from behind the net for an easy tap-in.
Ritchie and Point connected again near the ten-minute mark, widening the margin to 3-0 on Point’s second goal of the game. Frederick Gauthier assisted on both Point goals.
Ryerson’s Domenic Alberga had the selects’ best scoring chance of the period, but came away empty-handed when he wired a slapshot from the right circle into the chest of Team Canada goaltender Eric Comrie with less than two minutes left in the frame. The national junior team took a three-goal lead to the dressing room, outshooting the CIS squad 16-10.
The teams played a physical, close-checking game along the boards to start the second period. But Virtanen made it 4-0 near the midway mark of the period, wiring a laser over the blocker of U of T’s Michael Nishi from a sharp angle near the left circle.
Virtanen added his second of the game with just over five minutes left in the frame, tapping home a pass from Point with York University’s Shayne Rover in the box for tripping to put Team Canada up by five after 40 minutes. Virtanen finished the game with three points for a total of six in two contests against the CIS all-stars.
After the game, Virtanen discussed his chances of making Team Canada’s final roster.
“It would definitely be an honour,” he said. “I know that it’s always my dream for me to play on the world junior team and when you look a couple years back to when they’re winning gold and Canada’s happy and I was happy. The goal is to definitely get back on track and get the gold medal here so I definitely want to be a part of that.”
Ryerson goalie Troy Passingham started the third period in place of Nishi. Passingham started for the selects in Saturday’s loss, surrendering two goals on 13 shots before giving way to U of T netminder Michael Nishi in the second period.
It didn’t take long for the U-20s to solve the Rams goaltender, as Calgary first-round pick Morgan Klimchuk pounced on a loose puck in front of the net, barely beating a diving Passingham to make it 6-0 just past the three-minute mark.
Despite the final score, Ryerson head coach Graham Wise was pleased with his team’s effort.
“I thought our guys played well and I think it’s a good experience for them,” he said. “Any chance you get to challenge yourself and lets you know where you sit as a hockey player.”
Joe Hicketts, Team Canada’s seventh defenceman, was taken out of the game as a precautionary measure after going hard into the boards and staying down for several minutes early in the first period. Alberga received a two-minute minor for boarding on the play.
Team Canada is expected to announce its first roster cuts later Sunday night.
They next face Russia in pre-tournament action on Friday, Dec. 19 at the Air Canada Centre.
Canada opens its World Junior Tournament against Slovakia on Dec. 26 in Montreal.
The Ryerson Rams are back in action Jan. 3 when they host the Guelph Gryphons.
With files from Andrew Roberts and Josh Beneteau. Photos by Charles Vanegas and Jenelle Seelal.