HAMILTON - The line of Cody Hodgson, Zach Boychuk and Jordan Eberle gives Canada some scoring pop for the world junior hockey tournament.
Hodgson, the nifty centre from the OHL's Brampton Battalion, assisted on three goals in a 7-0 exhibition win over Slovakia on Tuesday night and upped his pre-tournament points total to a team-best nine points in three games.
Boychuk of the WHL's Lethbridge Broncos scored twice and Eberle of the WHL's Regina Pats got one. The two looked as if they'd been skating on Hodgson's wings forever.
John Tavares, with two goals, Patrice Cormier and Jamie Benn also scored. Five goals came on power plays, while Cormier's was short-handed.
Shots were 41-20 in Canada's favour and Chet Pickard of the WHL's Tri-City Americans, getting his first 60-minute chance, earned the shutout.
Canada went 3-0 in pre-tournament play and begins its quest for a fifth straight title on Friday when it plays the Czech Republic in Ottawa (7:30 p.m. ET).
Slovakia's only podium appearance was 10 years ago when it won bronze and coach Stefan Mikes hopes for a breakthrough this time with a roster that includes 19 players who are 19. Canada has only 12 players in their last year of eligibility. Slovakia also has a top-notch goaltender in Jaroslav Janus of the OHL's Erie Otters.
Mike's men took too many penalties to stand a chance at a win on this night. They were at manpower disadvantages three times in the opening seven minutes, and Eberle backhanded in a rebound on a power play at 7:30 to give Canada an early lead.
Slovakia took four of the five penalties assessed in the first period, and three more before the four-minute mark of the second.
Tavares made it 2-0 as Canada buzzed around Janus' crease with a two-man advantage. Hodgson faked a slap shot, passed instead to the star forward from the OHL's Oshawa Generals, and watched as the projected No. 1 2009 NHL draft pick slipped the puck into the open side of the net at 2:34.
Boychuk made it 3-0 with the prettiest goal of the night. He deked Janus to the ice and slipped the puck into the open net with the flustered goalie's chest on the ice.
Coach Pat Quinn's squad had kicked it into a higher gear. Shots were 15-4 in the lopsided second period after Slovakia had a 12-9 edge in the first despite all of its penalties.
Quinn used Tavares with Angelo Esposito of the QMJHL's Montreal Juniors and Chris DiDomenico of the Q's Saint John, N.B., club. Some production from Esposito would no doubt be appreciated.
Cormier of the Q's Rimouski Oceanic scored short-handed at 6:49 of the third period when he beat Janus on the short side with a shot from the circle to the goalie's right, Tavares took a knee-high swat at his own rebound to make it 5-0 at 9:09 with Canada at a two-man advantage, and Boychuk slammed in another power-play goal at 9:55.
Cormier, Stefan Della Rovere of the OHL's Barrie Colts and Evander Kane of the WHL's Vancouver Giants comprise Canada's pest line. Canada comes up with one every year, and this trio can bash and aggravate an opponent to no end.
Benn of the WHL's Kelowna Rockets capped the scoring with 55 seconds left.
Notes: Canada was 5-for-11 and Slovakia 0-5 on power plays . . . Canada's players, who had been based in Orangeville during their exhibition games in southern Ontario, flew to Ottawa after the game . . . Announced attendance was 16,073 in Copps Coliseum. Snowy weather couldn't keep them away . . . D Tyler Myers of the WHL's Kelowna Rockets did not dress . . . Slovakia has four defencemen who are six-foot-two or taller, including six-foot-six Juraj Valach.