Hofer makes 18 saves as Canadian juniors dump Germany 4-1

Hofer makes 18 saves as Canadian juniors dump Germany 4-1

Canada responds after worst-ever loss to Russia at world tourney

OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Joel Hofer made 18 saves to win his first international start at any level as Canada beat Germany 4-1 at the world junior hockey championship on Monday.

Nolan Foote, Liam Foudy and Ty Dellandrea each had a goal and an assist, while Calen Addison also scored for the Canadians, who were coming off a stunning 6-0 loss to Russia on Saturday. Jared McIsaac added two assists.

“I was pretty nervous,” Hofer said. “There was a lot of pressure after last game. It was pretty embarrassing for us, but as a group we bounced back.”

Yannik Valenti broke Hofer’s shutout bid with 67 seconds left in regulation on a 5-on-3 power play for Germany. Hendrik Hane made 22 stops to take the loss.

Canada now sits with two wins and a loss through three games at the under-20 event, and can guarantee top spot in Group B by beating host Czech Republic on New Year’s Eve in the round-robin finale for both teams.

The medal round starts Thursday.

The Canadians were minus two-thirds of their top line against Germany after Alexis Lafreniere, the projected No. 1 pick at the 2020 NHL draft, suffered a knee injury in that demolition at the hands of Russia — the country’s most lopsided defeat in the tournament’s 44-year history.

Joe Veleno, meanwhile, served a one-game suspension for a head-butting incident the same night to leave his team with just 11 forwards.

The good news for Canada is Lafreniere, the reigning Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year, hasn’t been ruled out of the tournament after an MRI revealed no structural damaged. He watched Monday’s game from the stands with Veleno and third-string goalie Olivier Rodrigue.

After beating the United States 6-4 on Boxing Day and then getting their doors blown off by Russia — the program’s toughest two-game stretch to open the world juniors since 1980 — the Canadians had a number of chances early before Foote finally broke through.

The son of two-time Stanley Cup champion and 2002 Olympic gold medallist Adam Foote roofed his second of the world juniors at 11:50 from the slot after Kevin Bahl’s initial blast from the point was blocked. The opener allowed Canada to breathe a little easier and came a couple of minutes after Bowen Byram pinged a shot off the crossbar on a power play.

Foote was a first-round pick by Tampa Bay at last June’s draft. His older brother Cal won gold for Canada at the 2018 event in Buffalo.

Germany, which fell 6-3 to the U.S. in its opener before upsetting the Czechs 4-3 on Saturday for its first victory at the tournament since December 2013, got a power play later in the period, but Hofer was there to deny a unit that was a tournament-best 5 for 11 coming into Monday.

Other than that, the Germans didn’t offer much as Canada pinned them deep in their zone for long stretches with relentless forechecking and grinding cycles.

Hofer, who got the start following a 20-stop performance against the Russians after Nico Daws was pulled with the score 4-0, made a good save on Valenti during another German man advantage in the second before denying Dominik Bokk and then robbing John-Jason Peterka with his glove on a breakaway after McIsaac’s stick broke.

“He stood tall for us,” Canadian head coach Dale Hunter said. “That was a crucial part of the game.”

READ MORE: Canada crushed 6-0 by Russia, loses star Lafrenière to injury at world juniors

Foudy doubled his team’s lead moments later when the seas parted in the offensive zone, and he fired shortside on Hane at 12:24. A 2018 first-round pick by Columbus, Foudy is the son of France Gareau, who won silver for Canada at the 1984 Olympics in the women’s 4×100-metre relay.

Addison, a Pittsburgh prospect, then fired a slapshot home on a 5-on-3 power play just 1:37 later to make it 3-0.

Selected in the fourth round by St. Louis in 2018, Hofer has been lights out with Portland in the Western Hockey League this season, with a 20-4-2 record to go along with a 1.81 goals-against average and .937 save percentage.

The 19-year-old from Winnipeg was never really on Hockey Canada’s radar until the fall, but made his case to stay in the world junior crease despite Valenti’s late one-timer on a two-man advantage.

Dellandrea iced it into an empty net with 9.2 seconds left on the clock.

Hunter mixed up his lines — out of necessity with Lafreniere and Veleno out, but also to get a spark after the performance against Russia, with the biggest move being Connor McMichael sliding into the top-6 forward group alongside Foote and Barrett Hayton.

Canada is now 14-0 at the world juniors against Germany since the latter’s reunification in 1990.

The Germans don’t have a deep talent pool, but possess high-end skill in Moritz Seider (the No. 6 pick by Detroit in 2019) and Bokk (Carolina), as well as Peterka, Tim Stutzle and Lukas Reichel, who are all eligible for the 2020 draft.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

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