If you were lucky enough to catch Team Canada’s Red vs White intra-squad game, you got a treat. Hockey Canada could roster two teams at nearly every level of international competition and both would have a shot at gold. This year’s World Junior roster is no different, and Team White currently hold all bragging rights after sweeping the weekend series.
Working our way from the crease out, the first game saw all four goalies split time between the two teams. Starting with weekend champs, Team White, Brochu (London, OHL) and Garand (Kamloops, WHL) combined for five goals against in two games. If I am being specific I, Brochu allowed five goals across roughly 90 minutes of game action, but stood out ahead of his competition. Canada had the goalies split the first game before giving each a full game before the first round of cuts. Brochu was named the started in Game 2 allowing three goals on 30 shots, a nice bounce back game after allowing 2 goals on 9 shots in 30 minutes of play in Game 1.
Garand will get his chance between the pipes tomorrow night in Canada’s third and final instalment of the Red vs White mini-series. His perfect Goal Against Average (GAA) and Save Percentage (SV%) will be on the line after stopping all 11 shots he faced in Game 1. Brochu started the night in nets for Team White who took control of the game in the early stages, outshooting Team Red 12-7 in the opening period on Saturday night. He did however, face two opposing Power Plays (PP) in the first period, serving at the team’s best penalty killer.
Across the ice in the opposite crease, Taylor Gauthier (2021 Eligible) got the start for team Red, stopping 17 of the 19 shots he faced on Saturday. Gauthier managed to weather the storm early for Team Red as his teammates worked through some rust to find their feet, conceding both goals on the PP. Gauthier got the nod on Sunday, stopping 26 of the 30 shots he faced in a hard fought matchup. His partner, Tristan Lennox (2021 Eligible) faced the smallest workload of the group, making six saves on just eight shot attempts. He will get his second chance in net for Team Red on Tuesday as he faces off against Garand in the last night of action before Canada makes their first round of cuts.
DDO’s own, Devon Levi (Northeastern, NCAA) continues to follow COVID protocol and should join the team soon!
Only one goal from the Blue Line so far, but Team Canada has a ton of talent to choose from as they narrow down this group to eight. A couple of first impressions, for starters, it’s not fair that Colorado will be adding Byram (Vancouver, WHL) to their defense core somewhere in the near future. He is, in my opinion the best skater on the ice and it isn’t close. I absolutely loved watching him play with Guhle (Prince Albert, WHL), and this has nothing to do with my Habs homerism. Both can fly, and can take off to join the rush at will, they compliment each other well, and Guhle’s defensive first approach allows Byram more offensive freedom.
One play that stood out to me for Guhle was in the second period of Game 2, Guhle’s gap control prowess on full display. It was either Krebs (Winnipeg, WHL) or Perfetti (Saginaw, OHL) (possibly Poulin (Sherbrooke, QMJHL), it was a left handed forward with a number in the 20s) came in a on a partial 1on1 against Guhle. As the opposing forward crossed the Blue Line to enter the zone, Guhle found himself way too far off the forward. Originally sitting back to protect against an attacking trailing forward and a possible 2on1, once Guhle identified that his partner had the second forward locked up, he pounced. Closing the gap immediately with one swift movement, Guhle remained stoic as the opposing forward faked the outside inside move before trying to break to the outside again. Guhle followed the body, let the forward gone through his stick twice before separating the player from the puck and kept them to the outside, bringing them to the corner.
A simple play? Yes, absolutely. As a Habs fan I wanted to be hyper critical of Guhle in my first experience watching him play; outside of countless highlight videos. However, Guhle was everything he was advertised to be. Small sample size of course, be he looked poised, confident and hungry.
Jamie Drysdale (Barrie, OHL), could you please un-tuck your jersey! Despite not being able to see his number, it was easy to tell who Drysdale was all night. One play I wanted to highlight was in Game 2, there was a sequence where Kirby Dach attempted to get around Drysdale but was muscled off the puck by Drysdale. Dach (Chicago, NHL) is 6’4, 200 pounds (lbs), Drysdale is 5’11, 180 pounds, that’s what you want to see from your top pairing defenseman!
Final observation from this weekend, the Los Angeles Kings scouting department does not get enough credit. Byfield (Sudbury, OHL) was the obvious player on everyone’s radar coming into camp, but Jordan Spence (Moncton, QMJHL) in the fourth round is a steal that no one is talking about yet! Before camp started, I thought that Canada’s right side would go Drysdale, Schneider (Brandon, WHL) and Barron (Halifax, QMJHL); sign, sealed and delivered. This is what I get for assuming. Schneider was the best defenseman for Team White from what I saw, but the battle between Barron and Spence really turned up a notch.
Let me tell you how excited I am for Canada’s centers! As is the case every year, this team has an abundance of talent down the middle that has forced some very talented players to the wings. Perfetti, Krebs, Mercer (Chicoutimi, QMJHL) , Zary (Kamloops, WHL), Wright (Kingston, OHL) are all natural Centers (or can play Center) who have been moved out to the wings.
Assuming that Canada’s lineups over the last two days are indicative of what position players will be playing, Canada’s Centers should go: 6’4, 200lbs, 6’3, 198lbs, 6’4 221lbs, 6’1 190lbs. Excuse me, I meant Dach, Cozens (Lethbridge, WHL), Byfield, Suzuki (Saginaw, OHL). This is what dreams are made of, at least here in Montreal.
Projecting line combos at this point would be an exercise in futility, but a couple of lines showed some chemistry and promise this weekend. Byfield, who may have been the best player on the ice, centered one of the more effective lines on the weekend. Byfield spent considerable time skating between Krebs and, a favourite of friend of the show Marco D’Amico, Samuel Poulin! The three provided Team Red with a lot of energy, offensive zone time, and more than a few scoring opportunities. Looking at the box score you wouldn’t believe me, but I think that they made a strong case to be Canada’s third line at the tournament.
Another trio that looked very good was Zary, Dach and Tomasino (Oshawa, OHL). These three led the charge offensively for Team White, scoring three of the team’s goals in Game 2, and accounted for eight points between them. While it would not surprise me to see Cozens shift to the wing as the team get’s closer to Boxing Day. If these three can catch lightning in a bottle for the tournament, this would allow Canada to balance their remaining lines. Possibly creating a line of McMichael (London, OHL), Cozens and Newhook (Boston College, NCAA)!
A relocation to the wing for Cozens would open up a spot in the middle for a QMJHL centerman. Mavrik Bourque (Shawinigan, QMJHL), Dawson Mercer and Hendrix Lapierre (Chicoutimi, QMJHL) have all been given time down the middle of the ice, and could find themselves battling for a fourth line centre role. Working down the lineup, there is still a ton of talent left on the board to fill out the final line for this team. Guys like Perfetti, Pelletier (Val-D’Or, QMJHL), Wright, Clarke (Ottawa, OHL) and Jarvis (Portland, WHL) have a ton of skill to round out this roster, but a few player’s stood out with a bit of grit to their game.
One player in specific that stand out was Jamieson Rees (Sarnia, OHL). The 2019 second round pick to the Hurricanes lacks the top end talent to compete with the top of this roster, however he is exactly what this team needs on the fourth line. He does everything right, goes the net with zero regard for his personal well being and attacks the corners like they owe him money. He is tied for the lead in goals after one weekend of play, and is making a strong case to make this team.
It is important to remember that Newhook, Greig (Brandon, WHL) and Holloway (Wisconsin, NCAA) both have yet to make their debut in camp, and both are very much in the mix to make this team. Newhook is a lock, but Holloway will come in a make a lot of decisions much more difficult for Team Canada. Any way you slice it Team Canada will have some difficult decisions to make leading up to their December 6th match-up against the U Sport All Stars. And that’s only the first round of cuts.
Still need more of your hockey fix? Listen to our latest episode of the Podcast as Peeze, Terry and Eagle speak with one of the hardest working men in the business, Julian McKenzie! A shorter list would be who he doesn’t work for, but this prominent Montreal sports voice was a pleasure to talk with. He even get’s Terry to channel his inner Mariah Carey!
Taking a break from hockey, the guys talk NBA on Weekly Sauce! Alex the Intern, Terry brought back Freddie Henderson from All Sport All Play ASAP Network! We love working with any and all of the guys over at ASAP and be sure to check them out and give them a follow!
Don’t forget to take advantage of our Promo Codes by visiting MikesBBQrubMTL.com with Promo Code HotSauce10 to get 10% orders on all individual bottles as well as ChettysHotSauce.ca and use HotSauce25 to get $25 off the entire site.