BUFFALO, N.Y. — And here we thought the Norwegians were the unknown.
It didn’t take long for the 17,061 fans at the HSBC Arena to notice the slip-up. It’s not likely anyone has ever been reminded of a mistake so quickly or so emphatically by so many people all at once. As the public address announcer named the scorer of Canada’s fifth goal, he was immediately corrected by the crowd.
“Team Canada goal scored by number 10, Brayden Sheen,” the large crowd heard.
As if some great injustice had just taken place, the crowd yelled, then chanted the correct pronunciation. It was a moment not missed by many, except the player whose name was being corrected.
“I didn’t even hear that,” Schenn said following the game. “I heard they were chanting something, but I wasn’t really sure. It was just kind of a random cheer. I was told at the intermission by Tyson Barrie they were chanting my name to say it right.”
Schenn has an easy explanation for the crowd’s ability to spot the mistake.
“That just shows you there are a lot of Toronto Maple Leaf fans in the area.”
His brother, of course, is a defenceman for the Maple Leafs.
But in spite of Schenn’s second dominant performance — upon which he was a goal shy of tying the Canadian single-game record of five — he was not named player of the game. That honour went to defenceman Erik Gudbranson who scored twice and had one assist.
“I had no clue I was even thought to be the player of the game,” Gudbranson said. “I’ve been playing a pretty boring style of hockey here.
“I guess someone decided it wasn’t (Schenn’s) day.”
But it was Team Canada’s day. The Canadians were not surprisingly the dominant team against the Norwegians. Thanks in part to Schenn’s not-so-big night, the Canadians stormed to a 10-1 win and will now face the Swedes in a game that will determine the winner of the group of New Year’s Eve.
Team Canada went with a shortened lineup after a suspension to Zack Kassian and injuries to Jaden Schwartz, Cody Eakin and Calvin de Haan. Kassian will also miss Canada’s next game against Sweden, but will be available once the medal round begins.
It was a gamely effort from the underdog Norwegians, who actually led 16-15 in shots after the first period. The score, however, was 6-1 where 17-year-old goaltender Steffen Soberg was rocked.
Soberg got the nod partly due to his strong play throughout the season and in the tournament. He posted a 36-save effort in a 2-0 loss to the Czech Republic in their last game and head coach Geir Hoff went with his gut feeling.
“Maybe a little mistake from me to put the youngest goalie in net,” he said. “But he’s been playing well all year so I think he — or I thought — he deserved the chance. But afterwards, maybe we should go with the oldest guy. It’s done.”
Soberg was actually the one who decided his night was over following Schenn’s mispronounced goal call. After seeing the puck dribble through on a shot he probably should have stopped, he decided a change was best for both him and the team.
“It wasn’t my day,” Soberg admitted. “I didn’t play well so I thought it would be best.”
The final score was a little lower than some may have predicted after Canada scored its first seven goals within the first 21 minutes. Their final three came within the final four minutes on goals by Schenn, Gudbranson and Sean Couturier.
In spite of going more than 35 minutes between the sixth and seventh goals, many of the players maintained they never let up.
“They played well and held us back for a while there,” team captain Ryan Ellis said.
“Maybe we were a little too offensive and we should have stayed defensive against maybe a (team like) Sweden we would have got caught on an odd-man rush,” Louis Leblanc said.
Team Canada head coach Dave Cameron breathed a sigh of relief in that none of his players left the game with an injury. The team will have a day off after playing in back-to-back nights following Tuesday’s win over the Czech Republic.
Canada sports a perfect 3-0 record through the round robin and will meet Sweden on Friday. Sweden won both of their round-robin games against Norway and Russia. They will face the Czech Republic on Thursday.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Schenn, who grew up in Saskatoon, Sask., offered an interesting response when I asked him how Canada would fare in a rematch with the Norwegians in a skiing competition.
“Oh my,” Schenn said. “I’m sure they got a lot more practice than us. Especially me, a Saskatchewan boy. We make our mountains out of garbage. They would definitely beat me.”