How Canada's Bear claw preserved the win, gave PK chance to regroup
OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Team Canada’s save of the game on Boxing Day didn’t come from goaltender Nico Daws, but from assistant coach Andre Tourigny on the bench.
With less than two minutes to play in a one-goal game, Tourigny reached up and snagged a clearing attempt from Ty Dellandrea that appeared to be heading out of play, saving Team Canada a penalty against a Team USA that was already 3-for-5 on the power play.
Hockey already has ‘The Goal’ from Bobby Orr, but this was hockey's version of ‘The Catch.’
“He looked like Odell Beckham Jr., there,” defenceman Kevin Bahl said.
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Tourigny even had the showmanship to match the moment.
Since the IIHF rulebook doesn’t account for the trajectory of the puck, only where it ended up, Tourigny held up the puck to show the officials – who were huddled to debate the call – indicating that it never left the rink.
He then handed it to a fan.
“He should’ve been the MVP,” Bahl said.
He may not have another chance to make a big save, but Tourigny could remain in the spotlight as Team Canada’s assistant coach in charge of the penalty kill. Giving up multiple power-play goals again against a desperate Russian team on Saturday (12 p.m. ET on TSN 1/4/5) will be a recipe for disaster.
“We need to do a lot better,” Bahl said. “If our PK is bad, we don’t have a shot.”
Team Canada fell into an early, two-goal hole to start the tournament by allowing two goals on the kill in the first period.
They spent nearly a half hour working on both special teams in Friday’s practice. There was a lot less urgency for the power play, which went 3-for-5 against Team USA, already matching last year’s production over five games.
“We lost a few battles and that made the difference,” Tourigny said of the penalty kill. “I think our PK has been really, really good [in the pretournament games] against the U Sports, the Swedes, and the Swiss, so no worry about our PK. I think we just had bad luck and a bad day at the office, so I’m not worried about that."
Centre Joe Veleno was on the ice for all three power-play goals against, while Bahl, Jacob Bernard-Docker and Aidan Dudas were all the ice for two of them.
Tourigny said Thursday’s miscues against the Americans were not a matter of structure, but lost battles. The focus on Friday was on the details.
“There is tons of room for improvement. All of the little things, urgency, awareness, taking care of the middle guy [in the high slot],” Bahl explained. “We can’t let tips go in from the hash mark, top of the circle. [It’s] playing your two-on-ones, taking away the most dangerous guy and giving them the least probably scoring chance.”
Of course, the easiest solution for Team Canada’s penalty kill would be to limit the number of penalties taken.
Tourigny said discipline has been stressed by head coach Dale Hunter – who finished his playing career second all-time in NHL history with 3,565 PIM – since this team first began to come together at the Summer Showcase.
“He’s huge on puck management and discipline,” Tourigny said. “For a guy who was a fan of the Nordiques, that doesn’t sound right.”
Team Canada was penalized five times – once each for tripping, hooking, high-sticking, roughing and interference – on Boxing Day.
“That’s not good enough, that’s for sure,” Tourigny said. “The players know that. I think we have to use our sticks in a better way. I think we had way too many stick penalties. We need to be smarter in our battles.
“In the long run, we will pay for it if we give too much opportunity to the best players in the world to go play a five-on-four. We have to be smarter.”
Some teams tend to struggle in the early going of the World Juniors in adapting to the different officiating standards employed at IIHF-sanctioned tournaments.
“It’s a lot different than back home,” Dellandrea said. “Everything is a bit different, cross-checks, hooks, even riding guys [into the boards].”
But Tourigny said that shouldn’t be an excuse because Team Canada has attempted to apply that same standard for the last three weeks in the run up to the main event.
“It’s not like we were not prepared,” Tourigny said.
Tourigny said Team Canada will be ready for Russia on Saturday, too, already keying in on their power play, which has a different look and is run largely below the hash marks and behind the net.
“We haven’t been together a long time,” Bahl said. “But you know what? We could have had more urgency taking guys away. We will be better.”
Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli