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Photo Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Frank Gunn

Game Day Preview: Canada vs Switzerland

Looking to improve to 2-0 in the round robin, Evan Bouchard and Team Canada are set to take on a Swiss team that is looking to rebound after opening their tournament with a loss at the hands of the Czech Republic.

The Canadians opened their tournament with a blowout win over Team Denmark and honestly, blowout might be an understatement. Canada put up a pair of converted touchdowns on Boxing Day, winning 14-0

Captain Maxime Comtois tied a Canadian World Junior record with four goals, but Morgan Frost was the one getting most of the attention. “Frosty The Goal Man” completed a hat-trick early in the second period and added a pair of assists in this one.

For Switzerland, they dropped their opening game against the Czech Republic, but I was very impressed with the effort they put forth, at least at even strength. The Czechs are a high-end offensive team and the Swiss did a great job of limiting their ability to score. Their downfall was their powerplay. They went a measly one for seven on the power play. A half-decent powerplay could have won them that game.

Canada is obviously the favourite, and I have no doubt that they’ll win tonight but don’t expect a 14-0 blowout like we saw on yesterday.

CANADIANS TO WATCH

Every year a player on Team Canada seems to rise up and catch the attention of the nation. After one game, it’s looking like that could be Morgan Frost. He has five points already and I’m excited to see how he follows it up.

It was an up and down start to the tournament for Evan Bouchard. He had three assists, was a plus two on the night, looked good on the powerplay but he also had a couple rough moments and his lack of minutes was a little puzzling. He played the least out of any Canadian defender with a total of 13:17. He only played 16 total shifts, Canada’s other six defensemen all had over 20. I’ll be watching his usage closely tonight.

Cody Glass got overshadowed by the likes of Frost and Comtois, but he had a great opener. He has the potential to be their best player and I expect another strong performance from him tonight.

THE OPPOSITION

Over the last five years, Switzerland has never finished better than 7th (8th – 7th – 9th – 9th – 7th, respectively) but every year it seems like they always come close to pulling off an upset at some point in the tournament. Back in 2016, they pushed Canada to a shootout.

Last year, their only win in the round robin came against Team Denmark and they would eventually be eliminated by Canada in the quarterfinals.

This year, I think they could surprise some people. They have nine players who currently play in North America including defenseman Tobias Geisser who’s spent the beginning of the season with the Hershey Bears in the AHL. He’s a player to watch tonight. He’ll anchor a blueline that also includes other returnees like Nico Gross (Oshawa Generals, OHL) and Simon Le Coultre (Moncton Wildcats, QMJHL).

Nando Eggenberger will wear the ‘C’ for this year’s Swiss squad. He’s spent this year with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL, posting 26 points in 31 games. He also was Switzerland’s Captain at last year’s tournament. He’s the type of player I expect to be used in every scenario. He acts as a net-front presence on their top powerplay unit.

Philipp Kurashev was off to a great start with the Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) with 43 points in his first 33 games, he’ll be one of their go-to offensive weapons. They also use him as the left-shot, one-timer option on their top powerplay unit. He has an absolute cannon.

Between the pipes, they’re currently carrying three goalies and I’m not sure who will get the call against Canada but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Luca Hollenstein. The 18-year-old has been really strong in international events for the team leading up to the tournament. It could also be Akira Schmid, who made the team last year but didn’t play a game.

WHERE TO WATCH: You can catch this game on TSN 1 starting at 6 pm.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Canada will win and improve to 2-0 at this year’s tournament. The Swiss might give them some trouble early, but Canada will pull away as the game goes on.

NOT SO OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Morgan Frost continues his strong start and adds another pair tonight.