After opening its preliminary-round schedule with an 11-0 win over the Northwest Territories Sunday, Team NL skated to an 11-2 victory over the Yukon on Monday at the CN Centre in Prince George.
Head coach Scott Gordon says despite the lopsided margins, the games represented chances to get the team’s game in order for the today’s crucial matchup with Prince Edward Island, one which will decide who gets the top seed heading into the qualification round on Wednesday.
This is an opportunity to get the lines going and gain some confidence, see where our problems may be,” says Gordon, who put the boys through a short practice after the win to work on their penalty-kill forecheck, power-play systems and faceoffs.
“Not out of disrespect for the other team, but when you know the way the score is going. we still need to try to enforce mental toughness,” says Gordon, adding that the opening games were also an important tool in keeping players accountable.
“In those games, it’s easier for somebody with individual skill to try to light it up, but we’re trying to enforce that if we want to be successful as a team, we’ve got to play a team game no matter what the score.
“That’s why we drove guys right to the last shift.”
Gordon figures mental fortitude is going to be a key factor for both sides today.
“You get a bit weary now going into the third day after travel, guys are little tired and sore and you’re going into your biggest game, so we’ve got to have the mental focus and strength to be ready,” he says.
“It’s going to be a dogfight to see who wants it more.”
Gander’s Adam Dawe, the team captain, led the N.L. attack on Monday, scoring three goals and assisting on another. Ryan Roche netted a pair, while singles came from Matthew Templeman, Evan White, Thomas Hagan, Nathan Kenny, Cody Langmead and Ryan Ricketts.
Goalie Matthew Normore, who plays at the Ontario Hockey Academy in Cornwall, stopped 21 of 23 shots for the win. Zach Rose will get the nod against P.E.I.
A win for Team NL today will result in a date with last-place team from Pool A on Wednesday. A victory in that matchup would get them into the group of eight teams that will compete for medals.
Today’s game, which starts at 5 p.m. NL time, can be watched online at sportscanada.tv/canadagames/index.php/week2/mens-hockey.