Raddysh scores 4 times in Team Canada beatdown of Latvia
TORONTO — Mario Lemieux. Simon Gagne. Brayden Schenn.
You can add Taylor Raddysh to that fine group of hockey players.
In a 10-2 beating of Latvia by Canada on Thursday night at the 2017 world junior hockey championship, Raddysh scored four goals, tying the Canada record for most in one game in the history of the event.
Lemieux did it first in 1983, Gagne followed in 1999 and Schenn did it in 2011.
Before another less-than-capacity crowd at the Air Canada Centre (this one came in at 13,796), Raddysh scored a power-play goal late in the first period to give Canada a 3-0 lead, got two goals midway through the second for a natural hat trick and then put himself in a spot alongside the others in the record books when he scored in the third period.
“You never really picture yourself being in the same status as them in a game like that,” Raddysh said. “It’s pretty cool to see your name beside those guys. It was a fun night and you have to enjoy the moment for what it is.
“The guys wanted me to get one more. But I had to be happy with what (already) happened.”
Raddysh knew during the game he had tied the record — he mentioned that TSN’s Ray Ferraro, working between the benches, let him know — but he could not score again despite coming close.
That Raddysh, who also had an assist for five points, didn’t set a record didn’t really matter, of course. Canada overcame a slow start, one that alternate captain Mathew Barzal called “unacceptable,” and exhaled when Barzal scored the opening goal, shorthanded, on a breakaway midway through the first period.
Barzal had two goals, and Nicolas Roy, Anthony Cirelli, Michael McLeod and Julien Gauthier also scored.
Captain Dylan Strome had four assists, while defenceman Kale Clague had three.
Canada outshot Latvia 35-25. The Latvians managed to beat goalie Carter Hart late in the second when Renars Krastenbergs scored. In the third, Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Martins Dzierkals scored a pretty goal on a breakaway.
Canada and the United States meet on Saturday afternoon to determine first place in Group B. Both teams are 3-0 through the preliminary round.
In the history of the world junior, Canada has a record of 34-8-3 against the U.S. Figure on it being a tight game between a pair of teams that have become intense rivals at the under-20 level. Certainly, it should be the closest of Canada’s four games in the preliminary round.
“The story is there and we have to write it,” Strome said of Canada’s rivalry with the U.S.
“For sure, (first place matters). Every game matters. It’s an easier matchup and you want the matchup that favours you best. First place kind of guarantees that.”
Before leaving for Canada’s selection camp earlier in December, Raddysh, a native of Caledon, Ont., and a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect, had 23 goals in 28 games for the Otters.
Raddysh has two hat tricks in 153 career games with Erie, but has not reached four goals.
“It was a pretty special performance,” said Strome, a teammate of Raddysh in Erie. “He has had some good nights in the OHL but that might top all of them. I’m proud of him. He goes to the net and gets rewarded. He is the one winning battles.”
Canada played without forward Mitchell Stephens, who suffered an ankle injury on Tuesday against Slovakia. Stephens is day to day.
“If it was a do-or-die situation, he could be playing,” coach Dominique Ducharme said. “We will see for the U.S. game.”
Ducharme couldn’t help but look ahead to the big game on Saturday. No matter the result, Canada will head to Montreal for the medal round.
“It’s never easy to be playing a game like that,” Ducharme said of the game against Latvia, a much lesser opponent.
“It’s going to be great to be playing against (the U.S.). It’s going to be good preparation for getting to the playoffs.
“I think we are ready for that. Mentally our guys are ready. Our guys were looking ahead a bit (against Latvia).”