Plymouth Whalers goaltender, Scott Wedgewood, made his Team Canada debut on Wednesday night and the 19 year old made 26 saves to earn a 5-0-shutout victory over the Czech Republic.
While Canada struggled to pull away from the Czech’s, it was Wedgewood who made an incredible lead pass that extended Canada’s lead late in the second period. Wedgewood passed the puck up the ice to Freddie Hamilton who then drove hard to the net and fed Ryan Strome for his second goal of the tournament. Strome’s goal made it 2-0 for Canada and moments later Brett Connolly finished off a beautiful solo effort to make it 3-0 Canada. The Wedgewood pass was certainly a turning point in the game and shifted all the momentum to the Canadian’s.
The third period belonged to Barrie Colts forward, Mark Scheifele. Scheifele scored two goals in the period to secure the victory for Canada. His first goal came on a wonderful effort behind the net by Tanner Pearson who fed the puck out in front and Scheifele finished it off, putting Canada up by a score of 4-0. Scheifele would add another later on in the period on another beautiful feed from Pearson. Tanner Pearson and Mark Scheifele, teammates with the Barrie Colts, combined for 4 points in the Team Canada victory.
Mark Stone continued his brilliant play, scoring his fourth goal of the tournament in the first period. Stone had an opportunity for another when Canada was awarded a penalty shot late in the first but he was denied by Czech goaltender, Petr Mrazek. Mrazek had a stellar game for the Czech’s. He kept them in the game up until the very end. He made 33 saves in the loss and also earned player of the game honors for team Czech Republic.
Both teams were very un disciplined in this hockey game. The Czech’s took nine penalties but Canada was only able to capitalize on two of those opportunities. Canada also had their own struggles remaining out of the penalty box committing eight penalties of their own. They managed to escape without surrendering any goals in the hockey game but that is certainly not what you want if your Canada head coach, Don Hay. Nathan Beaulieu also received a 10-minute major penalty for an illegal check to the head. For Canada to compete for Gold in this tournament it is essential to remain disciplined and remain out of the penalty box.
Canada was without Devante Smith-Pelly on Wednesday night against the Czech’s. His physical play was certainly missed but guys like Boone Jenner and Brett Connolly stepped up and played a bigger role in the Canada victory. Connolly had a tremendous game for Canada. He was a difference maker and seemed to generate opportunities every time he stepped out onto the ice.
Canada continues its quest for Gold on Thursday night against Denmark. Mark Visentin will be in goal for Canada but what everyone wants to know is who will start in goal against the Americans on New Years Eve. Wedgewood certainly made an impression on Wednesday night. He and his teammates left the ice to a standing ovation and to a crowd of 16,000 chanting “Wedgewood”.
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