Matisse Rousseau was taken in consecutive NHL drafts.
Owen Allard hadn’t heard his name last June.
Meanwhile, Macklin Celebrini is predicted to become number one in 2024.
Three players with very different career trajectories were key to Canada’s victory in the World Junior Hockey Championship opener on Tuesday.
Rousseau made 24 saves, including an outrageous glove stop in the first period, and both Allard and Celebrini found the back of the net in a 5-2 win over Finland.
“I can’t believe it,” said Rousseau, who is from Boisbriand, Que. “Growing up you watch the World Juniors and that’s a big thing. And now I’m here. I made a great save for the team and we won.
“It makes the moment even more special.”
Nate Danielson added a goal and an assist before Matthew Poitras and Maverick Lamoureux found goals into an empty net. Lamoureux also assisted on two goals in the annual U-20 tournament.
“It’s a surreal experience,” Allard said. “Meeting the Canadian fans is special and something I’ve never experienced before.”
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Mr. Aleksanteri Kaskimäki and Mr. Jere Lasila answered on behalf of Finland. Niklas Kokko made 26 stops.
Canada, two-time gold medalists seeking their first third consecutive title since 2009, will only have one player returning from the 2023 Halifax Games.
The United States and host Sweden are seen by many observers as favorites over the Canadians, largely due to a lack of talent.
Canada currently has five fewer players in the professional ranks, including Connor Bedard, but defenseman Tristan Renaud, who appeared in six games with the Anaheim Ducks this season, was on the roster until he was hospitalized with a viral infection. Ta.
“I’m a little nervous…I mean, how could I not be nervous?” Canada head coach Alain Letang said. “It was very quiet before the game.”
The North American team took the lead with 3 minutes and 36 seconds left in the first inning when Lamoureux took a shot that hit Danielson.
Rousseau, who had been passed in 14 draft rounds over the past two years, robbed Leni Hamenaho with an incredible 3-1 stop just before the icebreaker, then went 2-0 when Canadian fans got up from his seat.
“You just feel the play start,” he explained. “It felt so good.”
The second goal almost made it 2-0 when Jordan Dumais hit the post on a breakaway chance.
Allard finally put Canada within two points with 6:19 remaining, but his shot also hit an iron and bounced off Cocco’s skates.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Ottawa native jumped onto the thin glass at Scandinavium Arena in celebration.
“Some of the boys thought the glass was going to fall,” he says. “It’s kind of dark now.”
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Allard was limited last season due to injuries, which undoubtedly played a role in not being selected in June’s draft.
It seems unlikely that a similar situation will occur again in six months.
“I earned the chance to play here,” Letang said. “He will enjoy every moment.”
Kaskimaki made a chip shot on the power play 2 minutes and 15 seconds later for Finland, which finally put them ahead by one point over Rousseau.
Celebrini hit the crossbar on the third, but seconds later, at 6:38, he pushed the puck over the line in a scramble that required video review, but was not denied.
The 17-year-old from Vancouver, who is expected to be the No. 1 draft pick in 2024, was unable to speak to reporters after the game as he was taken away for doping testing.
“I’m pretty confident in our video guys,” Letang said of the review. “When he declines a call, there’s usually a reason.”
Poitras scored into an empty net with 2:26 left in regulation time, and Lasila scored the winning goal with 64 seconds left. Lamoureux then added an empty netter.
Canada is in Group A with Finland, Sweden, Latvia and Germany. Group B consists of the United States, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Switzerland and Norway.
Thousands of Canadians gathered in this city of about 600,000 people on Sweden’s west coast for the tournament.
On Boxing Day, the stands were painted red.
“It’s unbelievable to see the number of fans,” Rousseau said. “Please support us on this ice, in this rink.
“That means a lot.”
Along with Allard and Celebrini, he meant a lot to Canada with a solid opening performance.
Canadian management has decided to select Great Big Sea’s “Ordinary Day” as the country’s target song, following The Fables’ “Heave Away,” which was chosen last year.
Coach Allard said the players weren’t sure when the song was performed for the first time in Monday’s team meeting.
“I’m a little skeptical,” he explained. “But when I heard it with the fans and other people, it was really good.”
Part of the reason for skepticism may be that the song was released in 1997, long before they were even born.
When asked if he had heard the song before Monday, Allard replied, “Honestly, no.” “But we’re hearing it a lot now and hopefully we’ll be hearing it a lot throughout the tournament.
“That’s a nice ring.”
On Wednesday, Canada plays Latvia and Finland plays Germany.