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Team Canada hosted Team Slovakia in a final exhibition game before the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships get under way on Dec. 26 and won by the score of 6-1.
Canada, who many were concerned about due to their play during the previous game against Switzerland when then let a 4-1 lead begin to slip but eventually won 5-3; felt they had improved in some key areas, including keeping the foot on the gas throughout.
“It was a good effort from start to finish,” said Head Coach Tim Hunter. “The offence was spread around and Ian Scott played really well. He was calm in net when he had to make a stop and the consistency in trying to play our game right from the get-go.”
Scott, a 19-year-old Calgary native plays junior hockey for the Prince Albert Raiders in the Western Hockey League. In his fourth season with the WHL club, he has earned a record of 23-2-1, a goals-against-average of a stingy 1.61 and a save percentage of .943. He leads the league in all three categories. Scott was drafted by Toronto Maple Leafs in the fourth round, 110th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft
Asked about his greatly improved stats he said, “Just the base of my game, I have improved. I can resort back to it when I am struggling and that helps. This year I am playing with a little more confidence. I got on a roll with that and I think it has worked.”
The lanky goaltender appears to be the epitome of calm in the net. Although most of the saves he had to make in the first period were perimeter shots, he did get tested in the latter half of the game and kept his composure.
“He is very calm in net. He is a very different goaltender than DiPietro. Not better, but just very different, he just plays a very calm style,” added Hunter.
“I think that is what I have had in my game since I was little,” said Scott.
During the first period, it was all Canada, the shot total of 19-7 for Canada overstates Slovakia’s offensive output, and at least three of their shots were perimeter.
After one period of play the Canadians were up 4-0. The score also did not represent the play of the game as Canada could have had two or three more goals.
At 6:54, Maxime Comtois – the only returning player from the 2018 gold medal winning team opened the scoring with shot that went high and glove side on goaltender Jakub Kostelny. Cody Glass earned the only assist on the goal, his first of two on the period.
Jack Studnicka, Nick Suzuki, Ty Smith and Shane Bowers also scored.
Studnicka scored on the man advantage at 8:13, while Enrik Svec was sitting for two minutes for roughing. Slovakia got caught chasing during the first half of the game.
Canada added a fifth goal during the second period, while on the powerplay. Territorially-speaking the second period was not as lop-sided in Canada’s favour as the first was; however, Slovakia had little more penetration into the offensive zone than they did during the first.
Glass picked up his third point of the game when he scored at 6:57 of the second period. It was the only goal of the middle frame. Canada was throwing the puck around the Slovakian end when Bouchard slid the puck across the top of the slot, where Glass fired the puck in – the goaltender had to move laterally across the crease – but only got a piece of the puck.
With 5:00 remaining in the game Patrick Hrehorcak broke in on the left side of Scott, went wide around a Team Canada defender, and buried the puck keeping the shot on the ice, short side to break the shutout bid.
Canada added a goal during the third period.
Samuel Hlavaj made 39 saves in the loss. Scott earned the win with a 23-save performance.
Canada opens the tournament against Denmark in Vancouver at Rogers Arena on Dec. 26.