CANADA EDGES SWISS IN PRE-WORLD JUNIORS OPENER
JASON LA ROSE
VICTORIA, B.C. – Maxime Comtois (Longueuil, Que./Drummondville, QMJHL) scored two goals and set up two others, sending Canada’s National Junior Team to a 5-3 win over Switzerland in its pre-tournament opener Wednesday ahead of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Cody Glass (Winnipeg, Man./Portland, WHL) added a goal and two helpers for the Canadians, who opened up a 4-1 lead midway through the second period before the Swiss clawed back to make it close.
Switzerland struck first, taking an early lead against the run of play; a bouncing puck found its way onto the stick of Philipp Kurashev in the slot, and his shot found its way under the right pad of Canadian goaltender Michael DiPietro (Amherstburg, Ont./Ottawa, OHL) just 5:13 in.
But Glass needed only 14 seconds to answer, roofing a backhand over the short-side shoulder of Swiss netminder Luca Jan Hollenstein, and Owen Tippett (Peterborough, Ont./Mississauga, OHL) rifled a shot from distance past the glove of Hollenstein at 11:43 to put Canada ahead for good.
Comtois, who earned assists on the Glass and Tippett markers, added a goal of his own before the end of the first period; Glass forced a turnover along the sideboards and set up Comtois, who snapped a quick shot to the far side on Hollenstein.
The Canadian power play clicked in the second period; Jack Studnicka (Tecumseh, Ont./Oshawa, OHL) followed up a Barrett Hayton (Peterborough, Ont./Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) chance in front and potted the 4-1 goal.
Switzerland made it a two-goal game less than two minutes later when Valentin Nussbaumer broke in alone and tucked a backhand around DiPietro, and Tobias Geisser hammered in a loose puck at 18:43 to pull the Swiss within one after 40 minutes.
But they would get no closer, and Comtois found the empty net in the final minute of the third period to finish his stand-out performance and clinch the win for the Canadians.
Canada is back on the ice at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre on Friday, taking on Slovakia (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) before wrapping up its pre-tournament schedule against Finland on Sunday night in Vancouver (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
The 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship begins Boxing Day with Canada opening defence of its gold medal against Denmark (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).