EDMONTON — Canada began shedding game rust with a 16-2 win over beleaguered Germany at the world junior men’s hockey championship Saturday.
Dylan Cozens of Whitehorse had a hat trick and three assists for the host country against an opponent ravaged by the COVID-19 virus.
Dawson Mercer, Philip Tomasino, Alex Newhook and Peyton Krebs each scored twice for Canada.
Kaiden Guhle, Ryan Suzuki, Jakob Pelletier, Thomas Harley and Connor McMichael also scored for the defending champions.
John Peterka and Florian Elias countered for the Germans in Rogers Place devoid of spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nine German players were isolating in hotel rooms Saturday because of positive tests for the virus upon arrival in Edmonton.
Germany played 14 skaters — nine forwards and five defencemen — for a second game in as many days after falling 5-3 to Finland on Christmas Day.
The Germans couldn’t run anything resembling a real practice until the day before their first game.
Canada exploited Germany’s defensive and goaltending mistakes borne of mental and physical fatigue.
“We weren’t too focused on the score,” Cozens said. “We were just focused on playing the right way.
“It’s our first game of the tournament. We’ve got to establish our good habits
“It’s a tough spot they’re in. They’re down a lot of numbers and just coming out of quarantine. It does suck for them for sure.”
Canada’s 16 goals in a single game was two off the record of 18 set in both 1985 and 1986.
Canada faces Slovakia (1-0) in Pool A on Sunday.
Jonas Gahr replaced German starter Arno Tiefensee after one period and allowed 12 goals on 33 shots.
Tiefensee gave up four goals on 11 shots following a 45-save outing versus Finland the previous day.
Canada’s Devon Levi stopped eight of nine shots over two periods for the win. Dylan Garand played the third turning away five of six.
Canada’s Braden Schneider was ejected before the game was nine minutes old.
The defenceman’s shoulder check caught Jan-Luca Schumacher’s head for a major penalty and game misconduct.
Sweden opened Pool B with a 7-1 thumping of Austria on Saturday.
The top four teams in each pool advance to the Jan. 2 quarterfinals, followed by semifinals Jan. 4 and the medal games Jan. 5.
Canada’s tournament prep was interrupted by a 14-day quarantine midway through selection camp because a pair of players tested positive for COVID-19.
Before Saturday’s opener, the majority of the Canadian players hadn’t played a meaningful game in months because of the pandemic.
Up 4-1 by the end of the first period, it became clear the game would serve as a rust-shedder for Canada and an ordeal for the Germans.
Canada’s goal celebrations became more muted as the score became lopsided, but head coach Andre Tourigny said his team couldn’t afford to step off the gas.
“We’re not a team who played 15 games together or 30 games before the camp,” Tourigny said.
“Most of those guys have four intrasquad games and one pre-competition and one competition game. We need to get better every day.
“It could have been two hundred to one. It’s not about that. It was about us playing and preparing our team and our play to move forward in the tournament.”
“We have no time to waste.”
Canada overwhelmed the tiring Germans scoring seven times on Gahr in the second period.
“This happens when you are not mentally and physically ready and able to play on this kind of level with this intensity and speed,” German head coach Tobias Abstreiter said.
“We had no tools, no battle-level, nothing to compete against Canada’s strong game. We gave up in a way and this is what I cannot accept.”
German captain and Ottawa Senators draft pick Tim Stuetzle had the energy, however, to check Bowen Byram over the boards and into the Canadian team bench in the second period.
The Germans argued Canada’s fourth goal in the dying seconds of the opening period was scored after the buzzer, but officials ruled it a power-play goal for Krebs at 19:59.
Gahr and Tiefensee both misplaying the puck behind their net led to a pair of Canadian goals, including Mercer’s wraparound short-hander in the first period.
McMichael also scored a short-handed goal in the third period.
Barring more positive tests, three Germans are eligible to leave quarantine Sunday followed by another five on Tuesday. One player is in isolation until the day before the tournament ends Jan. 5.
Canadian captain Kirby Dach is out of the tournament with a wrist injury sustained in a pre-tournament game against Russia.
Tourigny will alternate the captaincy between Byram and Cozens with McMichael a full-time alternate. Byram wore the C on Saturday.