Skip to main content

John Tavares scores two goals as Canada beats Slovakia 6-1

NHL.com @NHL

PUCHOV, Slovakia - As the Canadian players continue to prepare for the world junior championship there are no shortage of lessons to be learned.

Thursday's exhibition game ended up being about discipline and patience in the face of a different standard of refereeing.

"The refereeing was questionable but it's something that we have adjust to," coach Craig Hartsburg said after Canada's 6-1 win over Slovakia. "There was a lot of penalties in the first part of the game.

"Some of them you might question if you were playing back home but over here we've got to understand that those penalties are penalties."

It didn't get in the way of another easy victory for the Canadian team.

John Tavares led the way with two goals and an assist. Shawn Matthias, Matt Halischuk, Stefan Legein and Josh Godfrey also had goals for Canada, which was coming off a 5-0 win over Austrian club team Red Bull Salzburg.

Adam Bena was the only Slovak to score on Jonathan Bernier, who finished with 23 saves in goal.

There was plenty of things the Canadian coach liked about the game.

"I thought we played with a lot of energy and competed very hard for most of the night," said Hartsburg. "Our penalty killing was very strong and I thought Jonathan Bernier was real solid for us too."

Canada faces Finland in an exhibition game Saturday before the Dec. 26-Jan. 5 championship opens in the Czech Republic.

The exhibition games aren't just about allowing the players to feel more comfortable. The coaching staff has also been using the advance time in Europe to get a feel for the team and start making line combinations.

"Every day we're learning more about our team," said Hartsburg, who is coaching for a second straight year. "We're learning about the combinations and what will work and some of the things that aren't working.

"That's one of the reasons why we come over here early and get these exhibition games in."

Matthias is one of the few players that wasn't part of the Canadian team that played in the Super Series against Russia this summer. The 19-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., says his teammates have gone out of their way to make him feel welcome.

With less than a week to go before the start of the event, the Canadians are starting to feel like a unit.

"There's definitely a lot of pressure but we got a close bunch here and we know what we want to do together," said Mathias. "We want to bring home a fourth consecutive gold medal.

"We're going to do everything we can to make Canada proud."

View More