The biggest problem (and maybe only problem) in Team Canada's 10-1 victory over Norway Wednesday night came post game in the announcing of Canada's Best Player award.
While fans thought Kings prospect Brayden Schenn would get the award for his four goal, five point, plus-six performance, it was actually Panthers #3 overall pick Erik Gudbranson
who netted two goals and added an assist and was a plus-five that took home the honor.
It might have been one of the only times that the fans booed a Canadian player.
"I guess that happens," said Gudbranson when asked about the fans booing. "It's a little disappointing but hey Schenner had a great game too. It's tough to compare with four goals."
"This is a pretty prestigious tournament," said Schenn. "Yeah I had 10 points in two games but my teammates were there. Without them, I don't have that."
Canada scored early and often against an overmatched Norway team as they potted six goals in the first period alone.
Going into the game it was Canada who was overmatched, in at least the player count, playing without three players due to injury (forward Jaden Schwartz and defenseman Calvin de Haan) or suspension (forward Zack Kassian), but it didn't matter with juggled lines or shortened bench.
|Gudbranson following Canada's 10-1 victory. |
"It's hard. Definitely going down guys in a tournament like this is hard," said forward Quinton Howden
who was no slouch in the points department either, setting up Schenn on two of his goals and finishing tied for the team high plus-six rating. "We had to do with what we had. We knew going into it, it was going to be a battle for us running three lines so we did with it and stuck to the plan and got the job done."
"The guys rallied. We have a great core group of guys in there that want to do everything right and are here for everybody," said Gudbranson. "They're backing each other up so we were really happy with the way we played today."
If you looked at just the shot count from the first period, you would have thought that Norway was at least close to Canada in terms of goals, actually leading 16-15. But that was not the case as Canada scored six of the seven goal in the opening frame alone.
A Norway defenseman fell down while trying to skate the puck out of his zone and Brett Connolly set up Casey Cizikas for the easy tap in goal just 2:01 into the contest. They then made it 2-0 2:49 later as Ryan Johansen worked his way around the back of the net and passed it to Schenn. The forward buried his second attempt past netminder Steffen Soberg.
Just 20 seconds later, Norway had their first real attempt of the game. Mark Visentin stopped the first Norway shot and then denied Rasmus Juell on the follow up.
Gudbranson knotted his second goal of the tournament 10:45 into the first as his shot from inside the blueline handcuffed Soberg to make it 3-0.
|Howden following Canada's 10-1 victory. |
"I've always said that if the opportunity is there, I'm going to take it," said Gudbranson on knotting the two goals. "Playing with a bunch of guys like this, opportunities create themselves and obviously I was up on my toes, i was ready for them and I jumped on them as soon as possible."
Then if you blinked you would have missed it as three goals came in a flurry, well 1:07 to be exact.
Louis Leblanc's backhand off a wrap-around came with 6:33 left in the first. Norway would answer that score off the next face-off as Juell scored with a backhand shot as the shot handcuffed Visentin eight seconds later. Then 59 seconds after that, Howden would take the pass off the boards from Gudbranson to feed Schenn for his second of the night.
Marcus Foligno made it 6-1 with two minutes to play in the first. As he drove to net, he was stopped in his tracks by the Norway defenseman, but collected the puck and scored.
Howden would set up Schenn for his hat trick 44 seconds into the second on the rush, making it 7-1 Canada.
The Canadians had a couple of opportunities to up their lead. Connolly got behind the defense with 8:33 left in the second but fired a shot that was gloved by Volden. And with 3:38 left in the second Gudbranson set another point shot to the net that hit Volden in the chest and bounced back just out of the reach of Howden.
Schenn popped in his fourth goal of the night by actually stealing the chance from Howden. The Panthers prospect was set up in the perfect position to deposit the puck into the net off a rebound, but Schenn dove in front of him and knocked in the puck with 3:25 remaining in the game.
"I mean he wants it more obviously," quipped Howden. "But he was diving for it so I kind of let him just have it."
|Schenn following Canada's 10-1 victory. |
"You just have to shoot it at the right time and pick the right spot. Obviously I'm getting a few breaks," said Schenn. "They're going under their arms. Getting a few breaks that way. As long as it stays that way, I'll be happy."
Potential number one overall pick in the 2011 Draft Sean Couturier scored with 2:42 left, slamming home the centering pass from Connolly and Gudbranson gave the Canadians double digits in goals with 29 seconds left in the contest as he scored from the slot short side.
After a day off, Canada will play Sweden with a bye to the semis on the line.