Washington Capitals’ Prospect Connor McMichael Records Goal in Team Canada’s 5-0 Victory Over Russia In World Junior Semi-Finals

Hockey Canada

Now in the first week of January 2021, the 2021 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships will soon be wrapping up. With a roster filled with many talented young players, the 2020 defending champion Team Canada took the next step in defending their title by beating Team Russia (their opponent in the Gold Medal game in 2020) 5-0 in the Semi-Finals, aided in part by Washington Capitals 2019 first-round draft pick Connor McMichael, who was coming off a one-assist performance in Team Canada’s game against the Czech Republic.

FIRST PERIOD

The Canadians wasted no time in setting the tone for the contest, coming out of the gate swinging just 59 seconds into the opening frame, with forward Alex Newhook scoring Team Canada’s first goal of the contest on assists from Braden Schneider and Jack Quinn. Some 10 and a half minutes later, at the 10:33 mark of the first, McMichael scored his fourth goal of the tournament, burying a lay-up pass on a wide-open net while battling in front of Russia goaltender Yaroslav Askarov; Jakob Pelletier and Dylan Cozens recorded assists on the goal.

Just over two minutes later, Team Canada got the game’s first power play after Russia’s Vasili Podkolzin was called for high-sticking, a penalty that turned out to be a double-minor. The Canadians put Russia in a deeper hole less than three minutes later, as forward Cole Perfetti netted his second of the World Junior tournament with assists from Cozens and Bowen Byram to put Team Canada ahead 3-0. The two teams headed into the first intermission by 3-0 and outshooting Team Russia 16-7. McMichael skated a total of 6:18 in the first frame, averaging 37 seconds a shift.

SECOND PERIOD

The Canadians once again came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders, getting a 4-0 lead on a goal from Schneider, who notched his first of the tournament on assists from Ryan Suzuki and Dawson Mercer.

Over four minutes later, Team Canada would get its and the game’s second man-advantage, thanks to a holding penalty from Russia’s Artemi Knyazev, though Canada was unable to convert on the subsequent power play. McMichael would be sent to the box for Canada’s first penalty kill and Team Russia’s first power play of the game on a tripping penalty. Halfway through the man-advantage, it appeared as though Russia had dented the Canadians’ lead by one, as Mikhail Abramov put the puck past Canada goaltender Devon Levi. The goal was overturned on a challenge review for offsides, which kept Team Canada’s lead immaculate at 4-0.

The period would end on another sour note for Team Russia, as Knyazev was called for hooking Dylan Cozens on a breakaway, giving Cozens (drafted seventh overall in 2019 by the Buffalo Sabres) a penalty shot. Fortunately for the Russians, Askarov managed to deny Cozens with a pad at the 19:30 mark of the second, and the period ended with the Canadians ahead comfortably, despite being outshot 13-9 in the period (although leading 25-20 overall). McMichael, despite not getting on the scoresheet offensively, played a total of six minutes and 36 seconds (6:36) in the middle frame.

THIRD PERIOD

The third period, unlike the preceding frames, was rather uneventful for the large majority of the period, with both teams seeing a number of chances, and Team Canada having several opportunities to add to their substantial lead. Tensions began to flare with just under five minutes left in the frame, as Russia’s Zakhar Bardakov and Canada’s Peyton Krebs were both sent to penalty box for coincidental roughing minors. The two teams played 4-on-4 for the next two minutes, with Team Russia Head Coach Igor Larionoc calling a timeout with 20 seconds left on the minors. As the 4-on-4 expired, Russia pulled Askarov, giving Dylan Cozens a wide-open net to put the Canadians’ fifth goal of the game on the board and his third point of the night. An intercepted pass by McMichael got the rush up ice going, though Jakob Pelletier recorded the only helper on the goal. McMichael played just 5:54 in the final frame and recorded one shot.

POST-GAME

Team Canada will face the winner of the Team USA and Team Finland game played at 9:30 PM EST tonight, in the Gold Medal Game on January 5. McMichael has now recorded a total of eight points (four goals, four assists) in the World Junior tournament, eclipsing his 2020 tournament total of seven points (five goals, two assists). In the Canadians’ 5-0 blanking of Russia, McMichael played a team-high 18:48, averaging 41 seconds a shift, while winning 62.5% of his faceoffs taken, and finished the contest with a plus-2 rating. Following the conclusion of the World Junior tournament, the 2019 first-round pick is expected to join the Washington Capitals’ training camp, and could play with the team’s American Hockey League affiliate Hershey Bears for the 2020-21 season and could potentially be a member of the Caps’ taxi squad for the 56-game season.

ByΒ  Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. His favorite player became former Capital Nate Schmidt after he met Schmidt in a Hershey hotel while in Hershey PA to see the Bears play, shortly after Schmidt was injured during a conditioning stint. Michael is also a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Orioles, and enjoys photography, watching WildEarth TV's SafariLive live safaris, and watching animals in his spare time. (Photo by Adam Vingan in 2014 at the Capitals Development Camp).
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