Short-handed Canadians get easy win

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:18 PM ET

BUFFALO — This kind of diving in hockey, not even Don Cherry would mind.

Brayden Schenn stretched full out in front of a teammate to knock home a loose puck and dove into the Canadian world junior record book with a four-goal game in a 10-1 win over Norway Wednesday night at HSBC Arena.

“I kind of stole one there from Quinton Howden,” the 19-year-old Los Angeles Kings prospect said. “I definitely owe him one.”

Hey, when history’s on the line and you have Schenn’s red-hot stick, why not cut in front of the line just one time?

Only three Canadian players have lit the red light four times in one world junior game: Mario Lemieux in 1983 against Norway, Simon Gagne over Kazakhstan in ’99, and now Schenn.

“Those are some pretty big names,” said the Brandon Wheat Kings star, who racked up his second straight five-point night to lead the tournament in scoring. “I think it’s a little bit of puck luck. When you’re hot, you’re hot, I guess.”

After his first goal, the public address announcer butchered his last name by pronouncing it “Sheen”, as in Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen.

That prompted the Sea of Red crowd to start chanting a correction.

“I heard them chanting something but I didn’t know what till I got back to the bench and some of the guys told me,” said Schenn, whose big brother Luke plays defence for the Maple Leafs. “It just proves there are a lot of Toronto fans here.”

Luckily, the poor P.A. guy had plenty more chances to get “Schenn” the right way.

At the end of the game, the crowd gasped when the player of the game went to Canadian defenceman Erik Gudbranson, who scored two goals against the homeland team of his Norwegian forefathers.

“He was giving it to me about it in the room,” Schenn said with a grin. “I kind of stepped in front of him and took it from him.”

Captain Ryan Ellis, whose three assists made him the most prolific blue-liner scorer in Canadian world junior history, tied Eric Lindros’ team record with 19 career helpers and moved ahead of 2009 gold medal mate John Tavares into fourth on this country’s all-time point list (23).

He and Schenn are driving the offensive bus right now for the roster-depleted Canadians, who were missing four players from the lineup and don’t know yet if it’ll get much better in time for Friday’s huge pool game and bye decider tilt against Sweden.

Whoever wins that one goes right to the tournament semifinal Monday.

“We managed to get through the game without any more injuries, which was our main goal,” Canada head coach Dave Cameron said. “We knew we’d face adversity at some point, but I guess the surprising thing is how it came all at once.“

Forward Zack Kassian, suspended until the medal round for his hit on Czech defender Petr Senkerik, sat out the first of his two-game ban. He’s eligible to return for the playoff round.

Before the game, a Czech spokesman updated Senkerik’s condition, saying the player didn’t practise Wednesday and still has a slight headache but is “going quite well.”

And the Canadians aren’t just missing Kassian, their top power forward.

Defenceman Calvin de Haan and forward Jaden Schwartz, who suffered lower body injuries Tuesday against the Czechs, couldn’t answer the bell.

Neither did a surprise late scratch — shifty Swift Current Broncos forward Cody Eakin, who has a hand injury he tweaked during pre-game warmup.

It’s something the 19-year-old from Winnipeg has been nursing since the national junior selection camp. He has been icing his hand an awful lot lately.

“It’s fair to say the day off is coming at a good time for us,” Cameron said.

This entire tournament is becoming a bit of Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Buffalo edition.

The defending gold-medal champion United States is battling an on-going injury bug. Every game they play, another one or two guys ends banged up.

The Swedes are making their way without Kitchener Rangers captain Gabriel Landeskog, a highly rated NHL prospect whose high-ankle sprain has turned into a major pain in the neck. The Slovaks have run into serious suspension problems.

Without Kassian, Canadian head coach Dave Cameron opted to split up his old linemates Marcus Foligno and Ryan Johansen.

Foligno, the Sudbury Wolves forward, played with Montreal Canadiens first rounder Louis Leblanc and potential NHL first overall pick Sean Couturier.

Johansen skated on a trio with Quinton Howden and Schenn.

“Yeah, there was some room on the bench, which you don’t want to see at any time,” Ellis said, “but I thought we got through the game. We don’t know who we’ll get back yet, but you just have to keep playing.

“The game Friday is obviously a huge one. You want to go through this tournament undefeated. That’s always the mission.”

Gudbranson, the big Kingston defender from Orleans, Ont., had never before played against a Norwegian team in international competition.

Every holiday season back home in Orleans, Ont., the 18-year-old Florida first rounder goes back to his roots and chows down on some delicious lefse — a traditional Norwegian potato-based flatbread — his family makes.

“We had some before I came here (to Buffalo),” Gudbranson said. “It’s part of my heritage.”

Lefse is flattened out by using a heavy-duty rolling pin.

Wednesday, Schenn and Co. did all the flattening with their hockey sticks.


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