VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Team Canada’s World Junior quest continues Tuesday afternoon against Switzerland, but the defending champions won’t face their first real test at the tournament until the weekend.
Canada outscored their opponents 19-3 through the first two games of the tournament, and are heavy favourites to move to 3-0 against the Swiss at 3 p.m. PT.
The Canadians are halfway to a Group A win, which would set them up with a favourable quarter-final matchup Saturday and possibly help the team avoid tougher opponents in Sweden, Russia, or the United States until the semi-finals.
So, Team Canada likely won’t see the two Canucks prospects — Swedish forward Arvid Costmar, and Russian captain Vasili Podkolzin — taking part in this year’s tournament for a while yet
Getting out of the round-robin unscathed is key.
If Canada wins Tuesday, and against Finland Wednesday, the quarter-final match becomes a lot easier.
A quarterfinal loss would repeat the team’s 2016 early exit from the tournament when it fell to Finland at Rogers Arena.
Meanwhile, at his second World Juniors, Vancouver Giants’ Bowen Byram has quickly emerged as one of the leaders on and off the ice. Virtually every player on the Canadian team was a first-round pick in the NHL draft, and defenseman Byram is no exception.
He was named a co-captain in the wake of Kirby Dach’s tournament-ending wrist injury. In two games, Byram leads the Canadians in ice-time averaging 22 minutes a game, and he leads the tournament in plus-minus at a plus ten.
Moreover, Byram has the big-game experience to help Canada later on in the tournament too. Not only was he part of that gold medal-winning squad in the Czech Republic last year, but he also led the WHL in scoring during the Giants’ run to the league final in 2019.