Montreal, QC, Canada (4E Sports) – Coach Benoit Groulx said Canada’s chances of winning the gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship could be derailed by lack of discipline and its inability to adjust to the standards of international officials.
During its 5-2 loss to Czech Republic in Friday’s scrimmage, Canada took 11 minor penalties, one major penalty and four misconducts during the last 13:40 of the game.
The parade to the penalty box was triggered by an open-ice hit from Czech defenseman Marek Baranek on Canada forward Robby Fabbri at 6:20 of the third period, one that knocked the St. Louis Blues prospect out of the game and forced him to leave the arena on crutches.
“What we just saw is not the way we want to play,” Groulx said following the loss. “It’s a good lesson that we can take from this game, and it taught something to us as coaches from what we saw from certain players.”
Groulx said the disappointing performance could hurt chances of several players to make the team. He didn’t name anyone in particular, but one look at the scoresheet gives an idea of who he meant.
Anaheim Ducks prospect Nick Ritchie was given a minor and a misconduct for a hit to the head at 4:04 of the third period, then was assessed a fighting major, an instigating minor and was ejected from the game after he repeatedly punched the head of Czech defenseman Lukas Klok well after the final buzzer.
Klok hit Canada defenseman Aaron Ekblad, the top pick in the 2014 NHL Draft by the Florida Panthers, in a game Tuesday and gave him a concussion, ending his camp.
Arizona Coyotes forward prospect Max Domi was given a minor penalty and a misconduct for a check to the head 1:20 after the hit on Fabbri, and Calgary Flames prospect Sam Bennett was assessed a roughing misconduct at 12:40 of the third coming to the defense of center Connor McDavid, the top prospect for the 2015 draft.
“It’s too bad the way we responded in the third period,” Groulx said. “But it’s a training camp, we’ve learned a lot from our players and I think that’s a lesson we have to learn today about how to respond.”
“Even though you’re tired and it’s tough and the game’s not going your way, this is adversity. We wanted to see how some guys would respond in adversity. We’re very happy with some guys’ response, and disappointed with other guys’ response. This is why we’re having a training camp,” he added.