Canada vs. Slovakia result: Devon Levi shines in net as Canadians hold on for 3-1 win

Canada's Boxing Day 16-2 drubbing of Germany was pretty much expected. The question entering Sunday’s 2021 IIHF World Juniro ChampioHow will the Canadians follow it up?

The team hits the ice Sunday for Game 2 of its 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship against a much more formidable foe and will do so without two players: Braden Schneider (suspension) and Dylan Holloway (upper-body injury). As for Slovakia, unlike the Germans (through no fault of their own), it has a full roster and will not be playing on the second day of a back-to-back. The Slovaks also have a deep roster.

Between the pipes will be Samuel Hlavaj, who posted an impressive .915 save percentage and a league-best 2.25 GAA in 39 games for Sherbrooke (QMJHL) last season. While he didn't have the best showing the last two tournaments (.861 save percentage in 2020, .872 in 2019), the 6-3 goalie covers a lot of net with his quick reflexes and is coming off a year he helped the Phoenix win the Jean Rougeau Trophy (most points in the QMJHL).

Anchoring the Slovakian defense is Blue Jackets 2020 third-rounder Samuel Knazko and a couple of players who would have been playing in the CHL if not for COVID-19 (Marko Stacha with Vancouver of the WHL and David Mudrak with Oshawa of the OHL). Slovakia may have won its opener against Switzerland just 1-0, but it put 32 shots on net and has players up front who can bury the puck, including Kings prospect Martin Chromiak, who suited up for Kingston (OHL) last year.

As for the Canadians, they'll look to replicate Saturday's offensive output, with 17 of 20 skaters getting on the score sheet and all four lines rolling. While head coach Andre Tourigny believes his team has a few things it can work on — he specifically mentioned net presence and faceoff routes during Sunday's availability — it doesn't hurt that a few of the players know a thing or two about Slovakia's goalie. Jakob Pelletier (two assists), Dawson Mercer (one goal), Jordan Spence and Justin Barron have all faced him in the QMJHL. Spence will draw into the lineup on Sunday after Schneider was handed a one-game suspension for a hit to the head of Germany's Jan-Luca Schumacher.

Devon Levi, who turns 19 on Sunday, will be between the pipes again. He got some rest Saturday when he was pulled after two periods to give Dylan Garand some minutes. Garand will serve as the backup again as Canada goes for its 14th straight win against Slovakia.

Sporting News had all the action as Canada secured win No. 2 at the 2021 IIHF World Junior championship.

(All times Eastern)

Canada vs. Slovakia score, highlights from 2021 World Juniors preliminary game

Final score: Canada 3, Slovakia 1

Final shots on net: Canada 23, Slovakia 18

Third period: Canada 3, Slovakia 1

8:17 p.m. — GOAL. Jack Quinn capitalizes on the misplayed puck at the blue line and scores an empty-net goal. Canada leads 3-1.

8:15 p.m. — GOAL. Not long after the penalty ends, and with an extra attacker, Martin Chromiak skates into the left circle and rips it over the glove of Levi. Canada leads 2-1.

8:12 p.m. — Dawson Mercer gets called for hooking with just over three minutes left in the game.

8:10 p.m. — GOAL. Canada gets a must-needed insurance goal. Dylan Cozens with the poke-check and then headman's the puck to a streaking Philip Tomasino. The Predators prospect skates in, cuts to the middle and after getting bumped by a defenseman coming back goes top shelf. Canada leads 2-0.

8:08 p.m. — Levi coming up big on the penalty kill and in the seconds following the power play. Great stuff from the Northeastern netminder.

8:06 p.m. — Under seven minutes left in the game and Peyton Krebs called for holding (FYI — Tourigny did not agree with the call). 

8:04 p.m. — Connor McMichael with another good shot on net and Samuel Hlavaj with another good stop.

7:59 p.m. — At the other end Levi makes another quality stop as he fights through the traffic to see the puck and get into position.

7:59 p.m. — Canadians swarming the net but can't bury the puck. That top line of Perfetti, McMichael and Krebs is putting in some work in the third period.

7:55 p.m. — Devon Levi makes a stop on a save up high to keep Slovakia off the board.

7:53 p.m. — Connor McMichael. My goodness.

7:49 p.m. — Third period is a go.

Second period: Canada 1, Slovakia 0

Some stats —  Shots total (second period): Canada 16 (7), Slovakia 8 (4).

7:29 p.m. — Great save by Devon Levi with just 10 seconds left in the period. Canada turns the puck over in their own end and Juraj Slafkovksy (who is just 16) fires the puck from the slot. Levi stones him as he reads it perfectly and comes out to make the save at the top of the crease.

7:24 p.m. — Samuel Knazko takes a high-sticking penalty as he hits Dylan Cozens in the visor. Canada back to the power play and after all is said and done they miss the net a few times and end up with one shot on net with the man advantage.

7:23 p.m. — Slovakia with a 2-on-1 and it looks like Devon Levi just got a piece of the shot from the right circle. Canada counters with some good work deep in the Slovakia zone.

7:21 p.m. — Canada can't get anything going with the man advantage — zero shots — as they struggle with zone entries, getting set-up and making poor passing choices in the offensive zone.

7:19 p.m. — Canada gets a power play as Jack Quinn is pulled down while skating into the offensive zone.

7:16 p.m. — Jakob Pelletier with a good chance short-side. The Flames prospect has been flying in this one. He's looked good with Quinton Byfield and fellow Calagry draftee Connor Zary.

7:11 p.m. — We're halfway through the second period and the shots in the frame are: 1 for Slovakia, 1 for Canada. The Canadians got their shot at 9:57.

7:03 p.m. — Martin Chromiak (LAK) with a nifty move by the corner and tries to go high, short side but shoots it over the net.

7:00 p.m. — Not a good start to the period as the Slovaks sustain pressure. Cole Perfetti (WPG) called for tripping. Slovakia would not score with the man advantage.

6:58 p.m. —  The second period is underway. Against Germany, Canada scored seven in the middle frame.

First period: Canada 1, Slovakia 0

Some stats — Shots: Canada 9, Slovakia 4. Blocked shots: Canada 2, Slovakia 8.

Thomas Harley (DAL) led everyone with 9:22 of ice time. Jordan Spence skated the fewest minutes (1:56) but made it count the most with the goal.

6:39 p.m. — Canada breaks out after Thomas Harley (DAL) blocks a shot but Jack Quinn (BUF) can't finish right before the buzzer on the cross-slot pass from Dylan Cozens (BUF).

6:33 p.m. — It's a much different game tonight. Against Germany it seemed as if every shot went in; Hlavaj is a much more formidable foe.

6:27 p.m. —  Slovakia's Robert Petrovicky seems like a very talkative coach on the bench. The ex-NHLer played 208 games (27 goals, 38 assists) between 1992-01 for the Whalers, Stars, Blues Lightning and Islanders. He wrapped up his career in 2016 after a number of seasons playing in Europe and his son Rayen is on the junior team.

6:18 p.m. — Almost six minutes in and Slovakia gets their first shot on net as Levi with the stop through traffic. Canada outshooting Slovakia 7-1.

6:14 p.m. — GOAL. Hlavaj makes a good stop but the rebound jumps out to defenseman Jordan Spence who buries it into the open net. The Kings prospect taking full advantage of the opportunity to get into the lineup as he scores in his first world juniors game.  Canada leads 1-0.

6:08 p.m. — Game on. I believe the referee said "Shake and bake." Fantastic.

Pregame

5:51 p.m. — Dylan Cozens gets the "C" tonight. Bowen Byram and Connor McMichael are the assistant captains.

5:42 p.m. — The birthday boy getting ready.

5:15 p.m. — Canada will only have 12 forwards for the game due to the Holloway injury. Jack Quinn moves up to take his spot on the second line while Connor Zary slots in with Quinton Byfield and fellow Flames prospect Jakob Pelletier. Dawson Mercer moves up from the extra forward spot that he started in for Game 1 to the fourth line with Ryan Suzuki and Philip Tomasino. 

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