Canada will have eight returning players from the 2022 gold medal winning team as it prepares to open the 2023 World Junior tournament on Monday night against Czechia.
The 2023 World Junior Hockey Championship officially kicks off in Moncton, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia as usual on Boxing Day. Canada begins it’s gold medal defence with a matchup against Czechia at 6:30 p.m. ET on Monday at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax. In the 47th edition of the World Juniors tournament, Canada is looking to be the first country to win 20 gold medals, while Czechia is looking to finish with gold for the first time since winning back-to-back tournaments in 2000 and 2001.
Canada is favoured to win by 3.5 goals on the IIHF odds, while the total sits at 7.0.
2023 World Junior Championship Betting Odds
Canada has won this tournament a record 19 times and is the last country to win back-to-back tournaments following their streak of five straight gold medals from 2005-09. They’ve had more tournament success than any other country, medalling in 34 of 46 events since 1977.
The Seattle Kraken’s Shane Wright is a +381 favourite to lead the tournament in scoring, while Connor Bedard, the projected first overall pick in the 2023 NHL draft, is second at +435. Canada defeated Czechia twice at the 2022 tournament in August, winning 5-1 in the preliminary round and 5-2 in the semi-finals.
Czechia has medalled three times in this tournament. As mentioned, they won back-to-back golds in 2000 and 2001, but they haven’t collected any hardware since winning bronze in 2005. They lost to Sweden in the bronze medal game of the 2022 tournament in August.
Canada had ample opportunities to find the back of the net in the opening frame, with University of Michigan product Adam Fantilli attempting a Michigan goal under five minutes in.
Czechia would strike first, though a goalie interference penalty on the play would wipe away the goal and give Canada their first power play opportunity of the game.
Seconds into their man advantage, Canada’s captain Shane Wright tipped in a blueline shot from Olen Zellweger to put Canada up 1-0.
After Connor Bedard attempted a Michigan goal of his own, the puck worked its way back to the point, where Brandt Clarke’s slapshot found the back of the net.
Canada’s two-goal lead would be short-lived as a successful challenge by Czechia determined that the play was offside, reverting Canada’s lead to one.
Czechia got their first goal of the tournament thanks to David Spacek, who received a cross-crease pass from Stanislav Svozil and buried it past Gaudreau. David Moravec netted Czechia’s second goal of the period 35 seconds later to give them a 2-1 lead after one period of play.
Czechia came into the second period still hot from the first, as Svozil scored 44 seconds into the frame to give them a 3-1 lead, though Bedard answered to make it a one-goal game.
Momentum swung in Czechia’s favour as Dean was called for his second penalty of the game. After video review, Dean was assessed a match penalty for an illegal check to the head, presenting Czechia with a five-minute power play. Jaroslav Chmelar restored Czechia’s lead while Matous Mensik scored 33 seconds later to give them a three-goal advantage, ending Gaudreau’s night as Thomas Milic took over between the pipes.
Milic saw his first test in the remaining seconds of a Czechia power play as after their own Tomas Hamara was called for roughing, Canada’s Jack Matier sat two minutes for tripping.
Amid their attempt to rally late, Canada drew a trio of penalties as they finished the game with six penalties against.
Wright was named Canada’s Player of the Game for his two points. Suchanek earned the honour for Czechia.
Canada will look to rebound on Wednesday when they take on Germany (6:00 p.m. ET/3:00 p.m. PT on TSN1/4/5, TSN/ca, and the TSN App). Czechia has a quick turnaround as they face an Austrian team coming off an 11-0 loss to Sweden on Tuesday (6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT on TSN1/4, TSN.ca, and the TSN App).