On December 26, during Canada’s first game of the IIHF hockey tournament, Devante Smith-Pelly broke his foot by blocking a shot in the second period as Canada faced Finland. This left an opening in the starting line-up with Freddie Hamilton and Quinton Howden on Wednesday night as the Canadians prepared to take on the Czech Republic. Who would team Canada coach Don Hay use to fill the slot? The answer: the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Brett Connolly.
Connolly went into this game with a goal already under his belt against Finland. In Wednesday’s game against the Czechs, he would once again prove himself, showing off the skills that got him into the NHL and netting the third Canadian goal, and his second of the tournament, in a game that would end up 5-0.
The line ended the night with four points in total and admitted to the media that there was no hard adjustments to be made.
“No adjustment, really,” Hamilton said on TSN.ca. “He’s played in the NHL so he has to be a really good player. He’s a really smart player. We had some chemistry whenever we were on the ice together.”
On top of his goal, Connolly also spent extensive time out on the penalty kill. Canada killed off seven penalties Wednesday night, including two two-man advantages.
On his blog, hockey analyst Bob McKenzie says of Connolly: “Keep in mind, this is a 19-year-old kid that is playing in the National Hockey League. If you’re going to play in the NHL at 19, it’s not just because you’re going to be an offensive player – you’ve got to have some defensive awareness and responsibility. He’s done that for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Team Canada wants him to do that here.”
Team Canada plays their third game Thursday night against the 0-3 Denmark team. They will rally on Friday as they prepare to face team USA on New Year’s Eve.
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