After a loss 48 hours earlier that left Canadians feeling deflated, their World Junior squad is back where they belong, and Winnipeg Jets fans have an extra reason to be pleased.
Team Canada avenged a 5-4 defeat to the hands of the Czech Republic on Saturday by getting back in the “Win” column with a 5-3 victory over Slovakia on Monday morning.
It wasn’t a clear victory from the beginning: Canada was down early once again, allowing the first goal for the third straight game, (this one was the fastest at only 1:40), and would not tie the score until there was just under two minutes left in the first period. The Slovaks pulled away with two goals in just over 5 minutes in the second period, and Canada would only answer with one before the end of 40:00 minutes.
Just as a nation collectively gave up hope, Nic Petan arrived.
Petan, who had already recorded an assist on Canada’s first goal, scored the game-winner, and added an empty-netter, giving himself a three-point night, bolstering his point total during the three-games to four.
Petan, a 2nd round (43rd overall) draft pick of the Jets in 2013, has been playing with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League for the past three seasons. He has already had international success, bringing home a gold medal from the Ivan Hlinka tournament in 2012. Petan, who has been centering Canada’s second line with Curtis Lazar (Ottawa) and Anthony Mantha (Detroit), is the smallest player on the roster at only 5′ 9″, and 170 pounds.
Petan wasn’t the only player that represented the Jets well on Monday morning. Josh Morrissey, Winnipeg’s 13th overall pick in 2013, had a dynamite first period, where Canada narrowly missed out on multiple goals. Although he didn’t record a point in the win, Morrissey was arguably Canada’s best defenseman in the game, playing on the top pairing alongside fellow WHL blue-liner Derrick Pouliot (Pittsburgh). A shakeup with the defensive pairings may be in order, however, as Canada will gain their most experienced defenseman in their next game, when Griffin Reinhart (New York Islanders) returns from serving three games from a suspension handed out in last year’s tournament.
Canada is back in the mix after Monday’s results, and play the United States in an annual New Year’s Eve game on Tuesday morning. The winner will be first in Pool A, and face Norway in the quarter-finals of the tournament.
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