By: Brayden Micallef
After an action-packed round robin in this year’s World Juniors, there are some key takeaways that should encourage Knights fans as they watch their favorite Knights superstars fight for a gold medal.
With a truly unfortunate injury to Team Canada captain, Kirby Dach, only a few days prior to the start of the round-robin, Canada took the ice on Boxing Day with a revamped lineup. Most notably, London Knight Connor McMichael was now centering Canada’s top line alongside fellow forwards Cole Perfetti and Peyton Krebs.
Additionally, with the loss of Dach, McMichael was named the team’s newest Alternate Captain. Not only will McMichael look to bring his talented goal-scoring ability to the team, but now a new-found sense of leadership and experience, in what looks to be one of the most talented rosters the nation has had in years.
Team Canada entered the tournament with a flurry of offensive firepower in what was a statement game in a 16-2 win against the Germans. McMichael continued to build upon what was already a stellar performance on an international stage against a depleted German team, as he finished the game with one goal and two assists.
In the second game against Slovakia, McMichael continued to shine, as the young sharpshooter once again centered Team Canada’s top line. While McMichael was held off the scoresheet in the 3-1 victory, his presence was still felt as he had four quality shots on net. One of them being a stunning between the legs shot that nearly beat Slovakian goaltender Samuel Hlavaj.
Unlike the first two round-robin games, we saw a different look from Team Canada against Switzerland, as McMichael centered a revamped top line with teammates Dylan Holloway and Dylan Cozens on his wing. McMichael once again found the scoresheet in this contest as he assisted on Cozens powerplay goal to kick off the second period. McMichael later found the back of the net, as he rifled a one-time shot past Swiss goaltender Noah Patenaude on route to Canada’s 10-0 win over the Swiss.
In Canada’s fourth and final round-robin game against Finland, head coach André Tourigny kept the top line of McMichael, Holloway, and Cozens together as they looked unstoppable in their previous game. While McMichael was once again held off the scoresheet in the 4-1 win over the Finns, the centreman left his fingerprints all over the contest with a multitude of quality chances, including three shots that rang off the goalposts.
While London Knights defenceman, Hunter Skinner, has not yet played in a round-robin game for the United States, he anxiously awaits his opportunity. If Skinner is inserted into the team’s defensive pairings he will look to make the most of it, in what has the potential to be a deep playoff run from a very talented US team.
John-Jason “JJ” Peterka, who was drafted by the Knights with the 55th pick in the 2020 CHL Import Draft, has quickly established himself as an elite player for the Germans in this year’s World Juniors due to his increased playing time from last year’s tournament, as well as playing alongside Tim Stützle who was drafted third overall by the Ottawa Senators. Over the four round-robin games, Peterka has scored 4 goals and 6 assists for a total of 10 points.