CANADA CRUISES PAST DANES IN WJC OPENER
JASON LA ROSE
VANCOUVER, B.C. – Maxime Comtois (Longueuil, Que./Drummondville, QMJHL) tied an all-time record with four goals and Morgan Frost (Aurora, Ont./Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) added a hat trick and two assists, leading Canada’s National Junior Team to a 14-0 win over Denmark in the opening Group A game for both Wednesday at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Comtois, the lone returnee from the team that won gold a year ago in Buffalo, is the fifth Canadian to score four times in a single game at the World Juniors, joining Taylor Raddysh (2016), Brayden Schenn (2010), Simon Gagné (1999) and Mario Lemieux (1983).
“That’s why he’s the captain of the team,” Canadian coach Tim Hunter said. “He led in all aspects of the game tonight; around the puck, playing physical, getting pucks out, and then obviously the four goals.”
In total, 18 of the 20 Canadian skaters recorded at least a point. In addition to the big games from Comtois and Frost, Brett Leason (Calgary, Alta./Prince Albert, WHL) had two goals and two assists, Cody Glass (Winnipeg, Man./Portland, WHL) recorded four assists and Owen Tippett (Peterborough, Ont./Mississauga, OHL) scored twice.
Michael DiPietro (Amherstburg, Ont./Ottawa, OHL) turned away 14 shots – including a third-period penalty shot – to post the shutout.
The scoring started early; Frost found himself all alone in front of Danish goaltender Mads Søgaard and tucked a backhand five-hole just 4:52 in.
Tippett was the recipient of a gorgeous feed from Frost for the 2-0 goal at 8:32, and Frost added his second goal in the final minute to send Canada to the dressing room up three.
After Comtois jumped on his own rebound just 45 seconds into the second period, Frost finished a two-on-one with Nick Suzuki (London, Ont./Owen Sound, OHL) to complete his hat trick and make it 5-0.
“I think I’m definitely a playmaker, but it’s nice to put the puck in the net once in a while,” said Frost, who has never scored a hat trick in his 231-game OHL career. “[There were] some great set-ups by my teammates, and fortunately they went in.”
A power-play goal from Jack Studnicka (Tecumseh, Ont./Oshawa, OHL), a rocket from Tippett and an unassisted effort from Jaret Anderson-Dolan (Calgary, Alta./Spokane, WHL) rounded out the scoring in the second period and made it an 8-0 game after 40 minutes.
Comtois was the story in the third; he finished a pretty passing play on a delayed Danish penalty at 2:52, and followed up his own miss to tuck in a wraparound and finish his hat trick at 7:01.
It is the first time two Canadians have recorded hat tricks in the same game since Dean Evason and Russ Courtnall potted three apiece in a 12-0 win over Switzerland on Dec. 28, 1983.
After Leason struck twice in a span of 3:45, Comtois spun in a the slot and snuck a backhand past Magnus Rorth – who had replaced an injured Søgaard less than five minutes before – for his record-tying fourth of the game.
MacKenzie Entwistle (Georgetown, Ont./Hamilton, OHL) added the final goal with just over three minutes to go, finishing off the sixth-highest scoring game in Canadian WJC history.
DiPietro was rarely tested – he made seven saves in the first period and seven the rest of the way – but came up big early in the final frame when he got his right pad on the penalty-shot attempt by Phillip Schultz.
Canada is right back to action Thursday at Rogers Arena, taking on Switzerland (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).