It wasn’t their biggest blowout of the tournament, but Canada’s 10-1 victory against Austria on Tuesday proved to be a solid way to end the preliminary round of the World Championships.
To Canada, this game meant nothing other than to try some new line combinations before their first quarter-final game on Thursday. Canada expected to win this game to go 7-0-0-0 in the preliminary round, and after clinching first place a few days ago, it was all just a good way to pad stats. For Austria, a loss would mean that their final result would not be in their hands. If Latvia and France were to head to overtime in the afternoon, that would result in Austria getting relegated to Division IA again for 2016. If the game ended in regulation, however, they’d be safe for another year.
Canada was expected to dominate from the get go, and after four goals in the opening period, there was no question that was the mission. With 4:04 off the clock, Tyson Barrie finished off a beautiful passing play with his Colorado Avalanche teammate Ryan O’Reilly to beat Bernhard Starkbaum for the 1-0 lead.
Five minutes later, another Avalanche player found the back of the net. After Jason Spezza got his own shot towards the Austrian net, Matt Duchene got a rebound for the 2-0 lead before the first period had even hit the half way point.
They’d get two more before the first came to a close. First, after 11 minutes of play, Taylor Hall redirected a point shot from Brent Burns to make it 3-0, just before Aaron Ekblad rocketed his fourth of the tournament home under Starkbaum’s blocker with his six minutes to go.
Austria’s effort was just simply not there. Canada’s 12-5 shot advantage was indicative of the dominance by the much stronger team, and a fifth goal just two minutes in to the second was proof of that. The Canadians had all the room in the world to make nice passing plays in the offensive zone, but eventually Spezza would take a feed from Duchene before firing it past Starkbaum for the 1-0 lead.
Just in case Canada really needed another goal, Jordan Eberle got one. Burns found Eberle sitting around in the offensive zone, and after using some speed to make sure nobody was near him, Eberle displayed some patience by crossing in front of the crease before unleashing a wicked backhand over Starkbaum to make it 6-0 before the end of the first period.
The third period saw some quick goals by both teams. At 2:44, Dominique Heinrich recorded Austria’s first goal after sending a weak shot over the glove of Mike Smith, putting Canada’s lead to five.
Canada would get two shortly after, though. Just nine seconds after Heinrich scored, Nathan MacKinnon took a pass from Jake Muzzin and broke into the Austrian zone, sending a shot on the ice through Starkbaum’s pads to make it 5-1. 21 seconds after that, Spezza was fortunate enough to bank a pass off of a defenseman’s leg and in for the 8-1 lead. For good measure, Canada would score another as Brayden Schenn got his first of the tournament, another weak goal on the doorstep to give them nine. Duchene would score Canada’s tenth on his own rebound with six minutes to go to help finish off the game, giving Canada the 10-1 victory and hold on to the perfect 7-0-0-0 record to finish the preliminary round.
With the win, Canada will face Belarus in the quarter-finals on Thursday. For Austria their fate will be decided later today during the Latvia vs France game, a match that should be close up until the final buzzer.
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