Connor McMichael Scores 4th Goal Of Tournament, Canada Beats Finland 5-0, Advances To Finals vs. Russia

Washington Capitals prospect Connor McMichael got the Canadian team out to a quick lead and added an assist later in the game to help his team to a 5-0 win over Finland in semi-final action at the World Junior Tournament on Saturday.

Dale Hunter continued with Joel Hofer (Portland WHL) between the pipes for his squad, and shuffled his lines again, as defenceman Bowen Byram (Vancouver WHL/ Colorado NHL)) could not play because of illness.

Aidan Dudas (Owen Sound OHL) was moved up to the third line in place of Raphael Lavoie (Halifax QMJHL/Edmonton NHL) to play with McMichael and Ty Dellandrea.

It was important for Canada to get pucks on Finland goaltender Justis Annunen and test the resolve of their semi-final opponent, and they did just that. 3:55 into the game it was 3-0 Canada, setting the table for Hunter’s team to play a stress-free game and be better mentally prepared for their next game.

Connor McMichael (London OHL/Washington NHL) scored the opener at 1:48, sniping a shot from the left faceoff circle over the right shoulder of the Finnish goaltender. After taking a pass from Dudas, he made no mistake, showing off his pro-level shot for his fourth goal of the tournament.

Video: TSN

It was quickly 2-0 when Alex Lafreniere beat Annunen with a backhand after, being sent in on a semi-break by Nolan Foote (Kelowna WHL/Tampa NHL) at 3:05.

After faking a shot, Foote looked off the defender before sliding the puck over to a streaking Lafreniere. The potential number one pick in the 2020 NHL draft made it look easy, as he lifted the puck short-side past the now-under-fire Finnish goalkeeper.

50 seconds later it was 3-0 when 17-year-old defenceman Jamie Drysdale (Erie OHL) scored his first goal of the tournament. After making a nice move around a Finland forward to get to the centre of the ice, the potential top-5 NHL pick made a nice shot, beating Annunen low blocker. Raphael Lavoie (Edmonton NHL) and Quinton Byfield (Sudbury OHL) both received assists on the play.

Finland was able to mitigate some of the pressure after the third goal against them, but it was Canada extending the lead late in the period off a crease-crashing goal by Ty Dellandrea (Flint OHL). McMichael let a shot go towards the net, and after being deflected, the Finnish goalie couldn’t get his glove on it quick enough. Dudas poked the puck to Dellandrea and it was 4-0.

The second period wasn’t as eventful as Canada exuded a more defensive style, but did make it 5-0 late in the frame on Lafreniere’s second of the game, effectively ending the game.

While on a powerplay, the slick forward took a feed from Calen Addison (Lethbridge WHL/Pittsburgh NHL) and wired a wrist shot short-side, much like his goal in the Slovak game, for his fourth of the tournament.

Canada goalie Joel Hofer (Portland WHL/St Louis NHL)  had to make his best stop of the game to this point with less than a minute remaining in the middle period.

The third saw another injury scare as Barrett Hayton suffered an arm injury after he crashed into the boards and left the game. Arguably Canada’s best player, it would be a huge loss if he can’t go against Russia.

Hunter tested different line combinations in the remainder of the game, taking advantage of some bonus time with a big lead to close out the game.

Hofer had to be strong at times as the score could have been closer if not for some good saves by the Western Hockey League netminder. He was named player of the game for the Canadian squad.

Team Canada’s Barrett Hayton, Alex Lafreniere, and Liam Foudy were named Canada’s top three players of the tournament after the game, though you could debate many others, including McMichael, could have been named.

Canada has given up just four goals in four games since the lopsided 6-0 loss to Russia in the preliminary round. Canada will now take on Team Russia in the rematch on Sunday at 1 PM EST in the gold medal championship. Finland and Sweden will play for bronze at 9 AM EST.

Connor McMichael finished with two points and looked dangerous throughout, playing with Dellandrea and Dudas. The shot he scored on in the first period to open the scoring of the game was another example of his already refined NHL-level shot, picking the top-right corner. Always looking to get pucks on net, his assist was credited after he made a nice play to get off a shot. He finished with 3 shots on goal and played just over 18 minutes as coach Hunter spread his bench in the third.

He Called The Shot

“He said, ‘Just get me the puck in the high slot and I’m going to introduce myself to the back bar,.’ And that’s what he did. He called it.” said Ty Dellandrea about Connor McMichael, following the game.

Video: TSN

As was discussed on Nova Caps before the tournament started, McMichael has seen action on all lines and has scored his goals while on a different line each time including a powerplay goal. To this end, he has certainly come as advertised and I wouldn’t put it past him to do something special tomorrow afternoon.

By Marcus Boutillier

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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2 Responses to Connor McMichael Scores 4th Goal Of Tournament, Canada Beats Finland 5-0, Advances To Finals vs. Russia

  1. Clifford Keefe says:

    Connor’s arrival may just make me forget GMGM’s absurdly bad trade of Filip Forsberg for future Hall-of-Famers Martin Erat and Michael Latta….then again, combined with what we’ve already got, I guess I’ll always wonder how insuperable we could have been with both of them–McMichael and Forsberg–on our roster at the same time …

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