Taylor Hall put to rest any concerns about his offensive abilities on Tuesday, scoring a hat-trick in leading Team Canada to a 8-2 victory over Slovakia at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Saskatoon.
Hall had yet to score in the tournament but he broke out with two goals in the first period and added another goal and an assist in the second frame to complete a four-point night, making a strong case to be selected first overall in this summer's NHL Entry Draft in Los Angeles.
Team Canada (3-0) continues its drive for an unprecedented sixth straight gold medal with a New Year's Eve clash against the United States and a bye to the semifinals on the line. You can watch the game live on TSN, TSN HD and TSN.ca at 7:30pm et/4:30pm pt.
"As soon as I made the team, this was the game that I marked on the schedule," said Hall, looking forward to New Year's Eve. "Any time I've played the Americans, it's always been a tough game. There's a lot of excitement involved and a lot of energy so it's going to be fun."
|KINGS PROSPECTS AT WJC |
|Brayden Schenn ||(1-4=5), Plus-6 rating, 2 PIM, 6 Shots in 3 GP |
|Colten Teubert* ||(0-0=0), Plus-4 rating, 0 PIM, 3 Shots in 3 GP |
|Brandon Kozun ||(2-4=6), Plus-7 rating, 0 PIM, 7 Shots in 3 GP |
|Martin Jones ||(1-0-0), 2.00 GAA, .926 Sv Pct, 1 GP |
Alex Pietrangelo, Luke Adam, Ryan Ellis, Brayden Schenn and Stefan Della Rovere added singles for Canada. Pietrangelo and Ellis also had two assists each.
Richard Panik and Martin Bakos replied for Slovakia (1-2), which needs a point against Switzerland on New Year's Eve to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Special teams continues to play a key role for Canada with the power play connecting three times on eight chances and the penalty killing unit chipping in with a goal.
Power play quarterback Ryan Ellis feels the combination of talent and coaching are two factors why the team has enjoyed so much success with the man-advantage.
"It starts with the people on the unit. We have a lot talent with Hall, Kadri, Eberle and Pietrangelo, who's playing in the NHL right now," said Ellis. "We move the puck around with no selfish guys and no egos on that line. The coaching staff tells us how to do it and we follow through on what they tell us." Martin Jones
earned the win for Canada but saw the record-breaking shutout streak end late in the second period when Panik scored on the power play. It was the first goal surrendered by Canada in 157:25 of hockey.
In the opening frame, Hall scored his first goal of the tournament on the power play and Pietrangelo followed that up with an even strength goal just 21 seconds later. When Hall pounced on a loose puck in the neutral zone midway through the period and fired a wrist shot over the glove of Marek Ciliak, the rout was on.
The goal spelled the end of the night for Ciliak, who was subsequently replaced by Tomas Halasz in the Slovakian net.
After a sluggish start to the second period, Adam converted on a wraparound attempt to beat Halasz and extend Canada's lead to 4-0.
The goal sparked the crowd as well as both teams, who started to throw bodychecks at each other with reckless abandon, turning up the tempo of the game.
"They were very big and very physical and they took it to us," said Adam. "But we were there to answer back and we were ready for it."
Soon after, Ellis took a pass from Hall and blasted a slap shot by Halasz on the power play to put Canada in the driver's seat.
Panik then spoiled Canada's shutout streak on the power play with Patrice Cormier in the penalty box. The Canadian captain drew the ire of head coach Willie Desjardins for taking an undisciplined penalty and played sparingly after the goal.
If there was negative to Canada's play on Tuesday, it was a lack of discipline allowing Slovakia eight power play opportunities, about twice as many as Desjardins is willing to accept.
"Against the Americans and the Swedes, we've got to stay a little more composed but we'll work on that," added Hall.
Before the end of the frame, Canada replied with markers from Hall and Schenn to put a damper on any hopes of a Slovakian comeback.
Della Rovere added a shorthanded marker for Canada in the third period and Bakos replied for Slovakia.
On the injury front, Jordan Caron and Brandon Kozun
suffered injuries during the game but should be ready for New Year's Eve. Defenceman Calvin de Haan did not play and head coach Willie Desjardins was not sure if he would be available against the Americans.
Canada 8, Slovakia 2
Canada - Hall (Ellis, Eberle) PP, 7:18
Canada - Pietrangelo (Cormier, Bourque) 7:39
Canada - Hall (Unassisted), 10:43
Canada - Adam (Della Rovere) 5:08
Canada - Ellis (Hall, Kadri) PP, 13:20
Slovakia - Panik (Hrasko, Rais) 17:25
Canada - Hall (Pietrangelo, Ellis) PP, 17:42
Canada - Schenn (Kozun, Pietrangelo), 18:39
Canada - Della Rovere (Schenn) SH, 12:41
Slovakia - Bakos (Stastny), 13:43
Canada - Martin Jones
Slovakia - Marek Ciliak, Tomas Halasz (10:43, 1st)