Caps’ alumnus Dale Hunter, who is currently Head Coach and Owner of the London Knights and also appointed to coach Team Canada in the 2020 World Junior Championship, generally has very short speeches during intermissions when coaching his teams. But when Team Canada found itself down 5-0 to Team Finland earlier this week, going into the first intermission, Hunter had a longer speech for his young charges. Normally, Hunter prefers to delegate the dealing of player issues to his assistant coaches. However, this time, Hunter found it necessary to address the players during intermission.
After the game, Connor McMichael, forward on Team Canada and 2019 first round pick of the Washington Capitals who also plays for Hunter with the London Knights, said to TSN, “It was unusual for him. Obviously, in London we don’t really lose by that much usually, so you could tell he was a little upset. It was good for him to come in and be honest … he also stayed positive and said we should stick to the things we were doing well.”
Admittedly, there were reasons for Canada’s sluggish start. Finland’s team had already played together for a few games, while many on Team Canada were playing together for the first time, given that several members of the team had sat out in their recent win against Team USA.
But the one-sided score after just one period was still somewhat jarring. Canada went on to lose the game 8-3.
Hunter himself said after the game, “They jumped on us early and kind of shocked us a bit. Definitely a slow start. We didn’t give our goalie (Rimouski’s Colten Ellis who allowed seven goals on 24 shots in the first half of the game before giving way to Alexis Gravel) much of a chance. They were coming down, back-door plays, we weren’t ready, we weren’t taking our guys in front so it’s a good learning curve. It’s one of those games you can take a lot out of, you got a lot to teach.”
Poor defensive play and lack of discipline were two of the primary problems with Team Canada in this game. Canada had taken six penalties and the Finns scored 3 times on the ensuing power plays.
By Diane Doyle
Story from The Sporting News website, written by Mark Masters, with quotes
Canada’s Hunter preaches tenacious style at World Junior Summer Showcase