Canada can expect a tougher test in their second game of the World Junior Hockey Championship as they prepare to face Slovakia on Thursday night.
After taking out Latvia in the first game of the preliminary round, Team Canada will now look ahead to their Thursday night matchup against Slovakia at the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship. The Slovakians are coming off a 5-4 loss to Czechia in their opening game.
2022 IIHF World Junior Championship Betting Odds
Canada actually faced Slovakia in the first edition of this tournament before it was cancelled in December, winning 3-1. Both teams’ rosters have changed significantly since then, however. Canada has won all seven meetings between the teams over the last last 10 World Junior Championship tournaments by a combined score of 39-8, not counting the December game.
Connor Bedard shined for Canada in their 5-2 tournament-opening win against Latvia on Wednesday. Bedard, the projected first overall NHL draft pick in 2023, opened the scoring midway through the first period and added an assist in the second. William Dufor, Ridly Greig, Lukas Cormier and Olen Zellweger also scored goals, while captain Mason McTavish had two assists. Canada outshot the Latvian’s 44-24 in the game, including 18-4 in the first period alone.
Sebastian Cossa made 22 saves on Wednesday, but Dylan Garand is likely considered Canada’s No. 1 goalie and should be in line for the start against Slovakia on Thursday. One area of concern against Latvia was Canada’s lack of discipline late in the game. Canada took five penalties in the third period, although they managed to kill off four of those man-advantages. Keep in mind these players haven’t played a competitive game in months and those issues will likely be tightened up as the tournament moves on.
This tournament is a tough pill to swallow for Slovakia as they have arguably been hit the hardest by players not returning. They’ll have a turnover of 11 players. After a historic 2022 NHL draft that saw three Slovakians picked in the first round, the team will not see left winger Juraj Slafkovsky (1st overall, MTL), defenceman Simon Nemec (2nd overall, NJD) and right winger Filip Mesar (26th overall, MTL) return for this tournament.
Slovakia got their tournament underway Tuesday against Czechia, losing a heartbreaker 5-4 on a late goal. Matej Kaslik, who is 2023 draft eligible, scored twice while Rayen Petrovicky, also draft eligible in 2023, and Minnesota draft pick Servac Petrovsky each had a goal and an assist. Simon Latkoczy, who will play NCAA DI hockey with Nebraska-Omaha this season, made 47 saves. Slovakia was outshot 52-29.
Canada vs. Slovakia WJC Score Prediction
Canada 4, Slovakia 1