HELSINKI—“Don’t leave anything on the table.”
That was coach Dave Lowry’s message Saturday to his players as they prepared for their do-or-die quarter-final against Finland at the world junior hockey championship.
“Go out and enjoy the moment,” said Lowry. “Nobody expects anything from us. The best part is we can go out, we can relax, we can play our game. We’ve talked about getting better every day. Today our expectation is we’re going to do everything within our ability to give us a chance to win.”
Canada will start Mackenzie Blackwood of the Barrie Colts in net.
The Canadians — who have struggled in every facet of the game so far — must beat the favoured Finns to advance to the medal round. Canada has been in the medal round 17 straight years but faces the possibility of its worst showing this year since placing seventh in 1998.
“We’re coming into it with a positive outlook,” said winger Lawson Crouse of the Kingston Frontenacs, a member of last year’s gold-medal winning team. “We have a good attitude around here. We know what we’re capable of. It’s just a matter of execution.”
Dylan Strome of the Erie Otters, with three goals and two assists, leads Team Canada in scoring, with Leaf prospect Mitch Marner of the London Knights second with two goals and two assists.
But Canada’s offence pales in comparison to Finland, who have the top three scorers in the tournament: Jesse Puljujarvi (five goals, seven assists), Sebastien Aho (three goals, six assists) and Patrik Laine (four goals, four assists).
One hope for Canada is that Finland’s goaltending has been leakier than Canada’s. The Finns have allowed 13 goals to Canada’s 11.
Another hope is that anything can truly happen in this tournament. Russia needed overtime to beat Denmark, 4-3, and was only able to force extra time scoring in the final minute.