- The last time Don Hay was coach of the Canadian National Junior Team was 16 years ago. That was also the first time in history that the country finished unbeaten at the World Junior Championship en route to its third of five straight gold medals.
Hay is at the helm again this year and, by all indications, it looks as if he'll settle for nothing less than six straight victories on home soil.
The Canadians took care of business on Thursday when it received goals from eight players en route to a 10-2 victory against Denmark in Group B preliminary-round play at Rexall Place. The victory, a tune-up for Saturday night's showdown with the United States, was the third straight for Canada. It has outscored the opposition, 23-3.
"I thought we got off to great start," Canada coach Don Hay said. "[Brett] Connolly's play on his first shift was important. He was physical and set the tone. It's a hard game to play when you're expected to control the game, but I thought we played well and did what we had to do to have success. We're looking forward to our next game."
When Hay was last behind the bench in 1995, Canada finished 7-0-0 while outscoring its foes 49-22.
Brandon Gormley and Mark Stone each scored two goals apiece and Brendan Gallagher, Scott Harrington, Freddie Hamilton, Quinton Howden, Brett Connolly
and Ryan Strome had one apiece. Canadian goalie Mark Visentin recorded his second win of the tournament by making 24 saves.
"I don't want to say I wasn't expecting a lot [of shots] but I knew there would be times where I'd have to keep myself awake," Visentin said. "It's nice to get shots on net. I'm a goalie and I like stopping pucks so I think it was good for them to throw pucks on net. You have to give them credit, they never gave up."
Despite the lopsided score, the Danes never quit, scoring twice to open the third period on goals by Nicolai Meyer and Emil Kristensen to pull within 7-2. The Canadians then reeled off three straight to close out the scoring. Gormley, Canada's player of the game, struck for two straight before Gallagher connected for his second of the tourney.
"During the game, we're only focused on this game, so I don't think anyone was thinking about the U.S. game during this one," Harrington said. "We just wanted to stick to the game plan and not get into any bad habits … get ready for the next one. I think we've been pretty disciplined so far, but sometimes guys go over the edge."
If there was one area Hay would like to see cleaned up is the time his team spent in the penalty box against the Danes. Canada was whistled for eight penalties and Denmark scored one power-play goal.
"We can't afford to take eight penalties [against the U.S.], that's for sure," Hay said. "We don't want to get into that situation, so we need to be better in that area."
Denmark goalie Sebastian Feuk, who entered the game having made 57 saves on 71 shots, made 41 saves as Canada outshot Denmark 51-26.
"It was a tough game," Denmark's Mads Eller said. "In the third period, we did better, fought hard and competed and got two goals. But we gave up too many easy goals to Canada. They were in our zone the whole time and got pressure on us for two minutes in the zone. It was hard running around and chasing the puck and they just played around with us and got a lot of shots."
Defenseman Harrington, who entered the game pointless, had a goal and three assists to lead the attack. He has been paired all tournament with 2012 draft-eligible prospect Ryan Murray of the WHL's Everett Silvertips. Harrington's four points in the game actually tied a team record for most points by a defenseman in a WJC contest.
"That's pretty funny because that's not the type of defenseman that I am," he said. "But I guess I'm in good company now so I'll take it, but I'm looking forward to the next game. We had all four lines rolling and the defense going so that's the type of game you want leading up to an important game [against the U.S.]."
Harrington's blast from the point gave Canada a 5-0 advantage just 25 seconds into the second. Harrington, a second-round pick (No. 54) of the Pittsburgh Penguins last June, signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Pens last July. He is currently in his third season with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
Hay wouldn't reveal his starting goalie against the Americans but he did inform the media on Thursday morning that a decision would likely come Saturday morning.
"It's out of my control," Visentin said when asked if he would be the starter against the U.S. "I did the best I could and right now, it's out of my hands. I want to play the next game but the only thing I can do is have a good practice day [Friday]. I wouldn't say I feel the pressure, it motivates me to work hard and stay focused and keep my eye on the prize.
"The biggest thing for [Scott Wedgewood] and I is to keep things positive for the team and, you know, be the same way we've been the past week. I think we've been successful so far and I hope we can keep doing that."