For the first time at the IIHF 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia, Canadian coach Steve Spott got a good glimpse of what his team can accomplish with a full complement of players.
The bottom line is this: It's pretty impressive.
Third-line checking forward Boone Jenner returned to the lineup Monday against Russia after serving a three-game suspension for a pre-tournament hit on Sweden's Jesper Pettersson in the second period of a Dec. 22 contest in Helsinki, Finland. Pettersson suffered a broken wrist and a dislocated shoulder on the play.
His return gave Spott 13 forwards to work with for the first time at the event. It also gave the veteran coach one more top penalty-killer at his disposal.
"He brings more of a forecheck presence," Spott said. "We want to be an aggressive team on the forecheck and he gives you that element. He's going to be a tremendous leader one day for the Blue Jackets, and he is a tremendous leader for us right now."
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound power forward didn't register a point in his return, but basically did everything else in his first game of the tournament -- a 4-1 victory over the rival Russians that enabled Canada to clinch a first-round bye into the semifinals of the medal round.
"It was awesome," Jenner told TSN. "I mean, my adrenaline had been going since I woke up [Monday] morning. We knew the arena was going to be electric and we wanted to feed off of that energy, so I've been raring to go and thinking about that game so it was good to get out there and back on the ice."
Jenner won nine of 16 faceoffs, took four shots, delivered a few big hits, was a key part of the penalty kill and, most importantly, provided energy and enthusiasm on every shift.
It was a typical day at the office for the 2011 second-round draft pick (No. 37) of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who was awarded the black cape as Canada's game-day hero against Russia.
"I'm here to play hockey and that's what I'm going to do … I'm going to play hard," Jenner said. "It feels good [to earn the cape]. I haven't worn one in a while, so I'm happy to get it."
"We're all hard on the forecheck, like cycling pucks and both Ritchie and Phil are big bodies," Jenner said. "We're doing good and need to keep that going [into the medal round]."
Jenner was asked if the incident involving Pettersson has forced him to rethink his style of play at the WJC.
"You want to make sure you don't cross over the line," he said. "I just have to control what I can control."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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