Connor McMichael Scores In Team Canada’s 6-1 Victory Over Team Slovakia, Advances To Semi-Finals

Team Canada faced Team Slovakia in their first elimination-round game of the 2020 World Junior Tournament on Thursday and successfully punched their ticket to the semi-final round with an impressive 6-1 win over the Slovaks.

Alexis Lafreniere (Rimouski QMJHL) made his return to the Canadian line-up, after suffering an ugly-looking knee injury during Canada’s second game of the tournament.

The forward told TSN: “Just to get into the game a little bit after two games, I think it worked pretty well and I was skating pretty good so it was a good game. We are getting better every game and it’s fun to see.”

Joel Hofer (Portland WHL) remained in the net for Dale Hunter’s squad following his strong performances over the Czech Republic and Germany.

Canada had just come off a game where they tied a team tournament record with four powerplay goals in one period against the Czech’s. With nine goals overall on the man-advantage, it has been a potent weapon for Canadian snipers. Today would be no different.

LINEUP
With Lafreniere returning to the lineup, coach Hunter moved Connor McMichael (London OHL/Washington NHL) back on a line with Liam Foudy and Joe Veleno after playing him on the top line with Hayton and Foote during Canada’s last two games.

FIRST PERIOD
Early in the game Canada faced adversity when Nolan Foote was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for a check to the head and neck area of a Slovakian player.

Slovakia fired five shots on Hofer, but the Western Hockey League goaltender stood strong in the pipes and Canada killed-off the penalty.

When the game returned to even-strength, Barrett Hayton scored his fourth of the tournament, burying a wicked one-timer from the slot.

Canada has scored the first goal for the third straight game, giving them a 1-0 lead at the first intermission.

SECOND PERIOD
The second period saw Canada score four-straight goals, beginning 1:21 into the middle frame on Connor McMichael’s third goal of the tournament. After Joe Veleno (Grand Rapids AHL) chipped the puck to McMichael, the Capitals prospect took the puck in on a two-on-one and, after looking off his teammate on the left side, wired a wrist shot past Slovak starting goalie Samuel Hlavaj, giving Canada the 2-0 lead.

Jacob Bernard-Docker continued the Canadian scoring just over two minutes later with a nice toe-drag shot beating Hlavaj low on the blocker side, making it 3-0.

On scoring his first goal: “It feels good but it feels even better going to the semi’s,” he told TSN after the game.

The onslaught continued when Liam Foudy (London OHL/Columbus NHL) used his speed to charge the Slovak net, beating the goaltender with a backhand for the 4-0 goal.

After the first four goals where scored at even-strength, the Canadians used their deadly powerplay to get a 5-0 lead at 10:50 on a strike by Lafreniere. After Veleno was robbed by Hlavaj with an outstanding glove save, the Sherbrooke QMJHL goalie couldn’t keep the accurate shot from Lafreniere out and the teams headed to the second intermission with Canada in control 5-0.

THIRD PERIOD
The third period saw Canada score their 11th powerplay goal of the tournament when Barrett Hayton scored just one minute into the final frame, stretching the score to 6-0. After exchanging passes with Calen Addison (Lethbridge WHL/Pittsburgh NHL), the Arizona Coyotes forward used his accurate wrist shot from the circle and beat the goaltender top corner.

The goal saw the Slovakian coach change goaltenders, inserting Samuel Vyletelka. It would be hard to fault starter Hlavaj for the goals against.

Slovakia broke the shutout 6:10 into the final frame when Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Oliver Okuliar took a bouncing puck at the blue-line and fired a slap shot past Hofer, making it 6-1, Canada.

WRAP

Connor McMichael saw himself on yet another line in this game, but as Previously noted prior to the tournament, it was always going to be his ability to play anywhere in the lineup that would be his greatest strength, and why he made the team.

It’s paying off for McMichael and Team Canada as he has scored on different lines and on the powerplay so far in the tournament. Playing today on a line with London teammate Liam Foudy and Detroit Red Wings prospect Joe Velone, he looked dangerous at times as the trio had four good high-quality scoring chances.

McMichael’s goal was a classic sniper’s shot as he was able to make the goaltender think about a pass, while looking at this teammate before shooting on the goal and beating the goalie with a perfect low-blocker shot. He now has three goals in five games with one coming on the powerplay.


Video: TSN

Canada will play in the sem-final round on Saturday, Jan 4th.

USA plays Finland today as well today with Sweden taking on the Martin Hugo Has and the Czech Republic (2 PM EST) in the other quarter-final games.

By Marcus Boutilier

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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2 Responses to Connor McMichael Scores In Team Canada’s 6-1 Victory Over Team Slovakia, Advances To Semi-Finals

  1. Bob says:

    Go Canada go. McMichael is showing great promise for future of Capitals.

  2. Pingback: Dowd In, Djoos Out; Samsonov To Start; Reirden Will Coach Metro Division For NHL All-Star Weekend: News From Capitals’ Morning Skate In Raleigh | NoVa Caps

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