March 4th, 2024

Dumais scores winner, Celebrini adds two as Canada gets by Germany at world juniors

By Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press on December 31, 2023.

Canada's Macklin Celebrini (17) scores on Germany goaltender Matthias Bittner (1) during first period hockey action at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Gothenburg, Sweden, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi

GOTHENBURG, Sweden – Jordan Dumais scored the winner on a power play in the third period and Macklin Celebrini had two goals of his own as Canada beat Germany 6-3 to wrap up the preliminary round at the world junior hockey championship in unimpressive fashion Sunday.

Brayden Yager, with a goal and an assist, Owen Beck, into an empty net, provided the rest of the offence for Canada, which lost 2-0 to Sweden on Friday and finished second in Group A.

Mathis Rousseau got the victory in his fourth consecutive start. Carson Rehkopf and Oliver Bonk had two assists each in a game that was tied 3-3 with under 12 minutes to go in regulation.

The Canadians, who saw forward Conor Geekie kicked out after just 11 seconds, will meet Czechia in Tuesday’s quarterfinals.

Julian Lutz, Roman Kechter and Julius Sumpf replied for the Germans, who finished last in the pool and now face Norway in Thursday’s relegation game. Matthias Bittner took the loss.

Canada entered 16-0-0 all-time against Germany with a combined 101-23 score, including last year’s 11-2 victory in Halifax.

It wasn’t nearly as easy on New Year’s Eve.

Dumais, who took a double minor for high-sticking that led to Germany’s tying goal exactly a minute earlier, snapped a 3-3 tie with his first of the tournament at 8:32 of the third on a power play off a feed from Rehkopf.

Tied 2-2 through 40 minutes, a nervous Canada took the lead 1:40 into the third when Rehkopf moved in on Bittner, who overplayed shot, and fed Beck in front for his first of the under-20 event.

Dumais was assessed that double minor to give Germany, which had been 0-for-10 on the power play before Sunday, but had already scored two on the man advantage, a golden opportunity to equalize – which Sumpf did at 7:32 – before Dumais finally pushed Canada in front for good.

Celebrini put things to bed with 3:58 remaining with his fourth from a tight angle after beating Bittner in a race for the puck.

Cowan, the last Canadian forward to get a point in the tournament, added the empty netter with 2:44 left.

Canadian forward Matthew Savoie (lower-body injury) didn’t dress Sunday after having an MRI. The national team has summoned winger Jagger Firkus of the Western Hockey League’s Moose Jaw Warriors as a potential replacement.

Activating the 19-year-old Firkus, who arrived in Gothenburg around 1 p.m. local time and was with the team at Scandinavium arena, would mean Savoie’s tournament is over.

The other quarterfinal matchups will see Sweden, which topped Group A, against Switzerland, Group B winners United States take on Latvia, and Finland versus Slovakia.

Looking for a third straight gold medal – and its first three-peat since winning five straight from 2005 to 2009 – Canada fell to the hosts 48 hours earlier after picking up a 5-2 victory over Finland before dismantling Latvia 10-0.

Canada, which beat Czechia in last year’s final, was down to 11 forwards with Savoie out moments into Sunday when Geekie was assessed a major for an illegal check to the head when he demolished a German defender on a hit that’s clean in North America – but not in international hockey.

Lutz put Germany, which upset Finland 4-3 before losing to Sweden 5-0 and getting crushed 6-2 by Latvia, ahead at 2:57 on the ensuing power play with his first of the tournament before Rousseau made a huge stop on Vadim Schreiner.

Celebrini responded with his third at 6:20 off the rush to tie it. Canada took the lead at 14:37 when Yager buried his second on a man advantage after Fraser Minten’s potential high-sticking infraction went uncalled at the other end, leaving Luca Hauf writhing in pain and the Germans with just three skaters on its penalty kill.

Germany got back even 1:49 into the second when Kechter scored on a power play.

Canada had plenty of chances as the period wore on. An unsteady group, however, saw pucks bounce off sticks and shots sail wide from prime scoring positions as the teams headed to the locker rooms tied 2-2 through 40 minutes.

The Canadians are minus significant eligible NHL talent, including the record-breaking Connor Bedard, but still have a roster of quick, skilled players that includes Celebrini, a 17-year-old expected to go first overall at the 2024 draft.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 31, 2023.

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