Dylan Guenther is all for the elite gamers who use every tool available at their disposal.
is one of them.
Problems can arise when this skill extends outside the team structure.
Canada tried to move twice early in Monday’s embarrassing 5-2 loss to the Czech Republic at the World Junior Hockey Championships.
Adam Fantelli and a snake-eyed Connor Bedard looked to catch the ball with their sticks behind the net and try to beat goalkeeper Tomas Suchanik into the near top corner with lacrosse efforts.
Guenther saw no errors in any of the Void sequences.
What they clearly showed, however, was how far the Canadians had already strayed from an assumed identity and game plan to match their high-class talent against an opponent who had not scored a regulation victory over the tournament favorites in their previous 23 meetings.
“We’re not going (Michigan) going all the way to the Finals,” Gunther, who previously scored the same polarizing move in the Western Hockey League, said Tuesday at the team hotel. “We’re trying a lot. It’s a skilful game. I understand. But I think that’s kind of the way our game is going right now.
“We’re trying to fight our way in. We’re trying to beat the guys one-on-one.”
hour | The Czechs stunned Canada at the World Junior Championships:
One of three players loaned to Canada for the men’s under-20 showcase by NHL clubs, the Arizona Coyotes forward speaks from a position of authority.
“You have to play well,” said Gunter, who has 11 points in 21 NHL games this season. Play together, play as a team. It starts with the simple side of the game: winning battles. Our efficiency… no problem.
“It’s the level of competition.”
Timing is key
Canadian coach Dennis Williams has no problem with a generation of talented hockey players who take courage as long as the time is right.
“I wanted to see us do a better job of touching the paint, getting in the tough times and focusing more on how we want to play,” he said. “We were surrounded, and so we’ll play ‘The Michigan’… Sometimes there’s a little bit better to play.”
Canadian forward Logan Stankoven didn’t have the move in mind in the heat of the moment.
“It’s great to see the game evolve,” said the Dallas Stars draft pick. “When you need a goal or when the game is really tight, maybe it’s not the right time.”
The handsome wizard and expected to finish first in the 2023 NHL Draft, Bédard also attempted a move in pre-tournament action, while Fantilli — a top 5 player — pulled off a high-roller game first made famous by University of Michigan forward Mike Legg in 1996.
“Some might think it’s a one-man thing, some might think it’s a good opportunity to score from behind the net,” said Fantelli, in his first season with Michigan. “There is a limit to the number of times you can try out in a game and the number of times you can try out in a tournament.
“It can be a good scoring opportunity, but sometimes you have to know how to step back and start the good game.”
hour | I was in the net for… Michigan goal:
“He doesn’t know us.”
A wild and rambunctious Canada did little against the Czechs on a humiliating night in front of the world’s first small crowd in two decades.
“It doesn’t define us,” said Williams, whose team retired from the ice on Tuesday. “This might be the best thing that could happen to our group – understand that we don’t put our skates up and win hockey games. We have to compete, we have to fight, we have to manage the pucks, we have to be physical, we have to stay out of the box.”
“I hope the players will accept the challenge we are facing.”
Canada has been on the same front line since making cuts after selection camp, but Williams said there will be changes when his team plays Germany on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Tomas Milic will start in the net after stopping all 10 shots he faced on Monday in relief from Benjamin Goudreau.
“Very excited,” Milic said. “Something every goalkeeper dreams of.”
The goalkeeper was also number one for his teammates’ effort against the Czechs and echoed many of their sentiments.
“There’s not enough of anything, really,” Milic said. “I think the guys may have taken them a little too seriously. We need to ask for details and take back our reasons.”
This includes preparation.
“There is a difference between freedom, enjoyment, and being ready to go,” said Gunter. “We were on the loose side. Obviously it never happened — it just sank in. Collectively, we’ve got to be better.”
While there was great sadness outside, the sun was still shining brightly in the cloudy Halifax sky on Tuesday.
Guenther saw a silver lining.
“First, we’re not,” he said of the Czech horror show. “It’s not who we are. It’s not that we have to reinvent the wheel. These are things we have to do every single day. The reset button.”