TORONTO – Canada is set to take on Finland at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Montreal for its first major test of the tournament.
Canada opened the tournament with a pair of lopsided wins against Slovakia (8-0) and Germany (4-0). Finland, meanwhile, has struggled so far losing 2-1 to the United States in overtime and being upset by Slovakia 2-1.
Team Canada is trying to look past what happened a year ago in Malmo, Sweden when the Finns crushed Canada 5-1 in the semifinals before going to beat the host country to claim their first title since 1998.
Coach Benoit Groulx, an assistant to Brent Sutter last year, said Finland will be a test for his team.
“They skate well, they have skills, they have a solid goalie and they play very good as a unit,” said Groulx. “They’re very good at blocking the middle of the ice and taking your time and space away, so it’ll be a matter of us of managing the puck well and making sure we put ourselves in position to use our speed.”
One area to watch in the game will be special teams.
Canada killed off all nine penalties in its first two games, while Finland failed to convert on its 10 power-play opportunities.
The Canucks will look to Winnipeg Jets prospect Nic Petan to continue his high production, leading the team with six points through two games. Robby Fabbri opened the tournament with four points and Connor McDavid who struggled in his first game rebounded with three points against Germany.
Quebec native Zach Fucale, who picked up a 12 save shutout against Slovakia, will get the start in goal for Canada. Fucale was in net for last year’s loss to Finland, but looks to put the past behind him with a strong performance Monday night.
For full coverage of Team Canada and the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship click here.
*With a file from the Canadian Press