Prior to World Junior Opener versus Finland, Canada faces unease

Macklin Celebrini has been an underdog only a few times throughout his hockey career. The same applies to Canada whenever it hits the ice for international tournaments. 

Moving to a new year in 2024 with the World Junior Hockey Championship, the powerhouse nation is not being considered a favorite option, at least from an outside point of view. 

The 17-year-old hockey player from Vancouver is not paying attention to these comments as he expects to become No. 1 at the NHL draft in June. The player disregarded these comments as mere opinions and looks forward to proving the team‘s worth on an international level. 

The team is missing numerous NHL-eligible players, but one stood out in the last pre-tournament encounter. Despite returning several under-20 players, Canada lagged the US. It is also a country that beat 5-3 after two periods last weekend before roaring back in full force in the final 25 minutes to lose 6-5.

After practicing on Monday at Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg, head coach Alan Letang said the third period’s sharpness and enthusiasm stood out. He also remembered being hopeful when the bench went silent, looking to his assistant, Shaun Clouston, and stressing the matter. He likes the team’s intensity and devotion and expects the same from the Canada-Finland tournament start this week.

Based on Canadian sportsbook news, Letang mentioned how the Finns want to attack and shoot the net and how Canada plans to put pressure on the United States to turn a few pucks over successfully. 

The final period against the US proved the capability of the team during the annual event according to Celebrini who plans to focus on this and replicate it, even if things do not go their way. 

Fraser Minten, captain of Canada’s team, claimed that his team did not pay attention to any outside prognostication. Meanwhile, Mathis Rousseau won his battle to commence the first match in net for his nation, before Samuel St-Hilaire and Scott Ratzlaff. 

The goaltender from Boisbriand, Que. was passed over in all seven rounds of the previous two NHL selections and is now looking forward to a fresh start.

Canada’s team includes Finland players and hosts Germany, Latvia, and Sweden, while, on the other side, we have Norway, Switzerland, Slovakia, Czechia, and the U.S.

The well-documented roster absences for the NHL on the Canadian team include Adam Fantilli and Connor Bedard, who got reinforcements from the Boston Bruins when center Matthew Poitras was sent to the Canadian team. The 19-year-old Brooklyn player, Ont, is excited about the game and inspired by the team in its final event. 

Letang expects to use the same approach while playing against Finland, while players from the US start to rise and climb towards the third gold medal. 

Minten played at least four times before returning to Junior level with the Leafs after training camp and was named captain on Sunday. The Vancouver 19-year-old center enjoys leading the squad and wearing the C jersey for Canada.

Celebrini said the group team came close in Europe after Oakville’s selection camp. Holidays have helped the crew unite and form a family. LeTang reported that Anaheim Ducks prospect Tristan Luneau, a defenseman, was hospitalized with a viral ailment, leading the nation to call for a replacement.

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