Canada’s Bowen Byram (left) is checked by Russia’s Dmitri Voronkov during first period action at the World Junior Hockey Championship, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019 in Ostrava, Czech Republic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Canada crushed 6-0 by Russia, loses star Lafrenière to injury at world juniors

Canadians look to regroup Monday against Germany

OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Canada was embarrassed 6-0 by Russia and also lost star winger Alexis Lafreniere to an apparent knee injury on a disastrous night for one of the tournament favourites at the world junior hockey championship Saturday.

The projected No. 1 pick at the 2020 NHL draft, Lafreniere was hurt early in the second period with the Canadians already down 3-0 as he cut to the net on a power play.

The 18-year-old bumped into Russian goalie Amir Miftakhov after being knocked slightly off balance by defenceman Yegor Zamula — his left knee twisting awkwardly underneath him as he fell to the ice.

Lafreniere, who had a goal and three assists in Canada’s wild 6-4 victory over the United States on Thursday to open the under-20 event, lay writhing in pain clutching the joint before being attended to by the team’s trainer inside a stunned Ostravar Arena.

The native of Saint-Eustache, Que., didn’t put any weight on the knee as he left the ice with the help of teammates and went straight to the locker room.

Nikita Alexandrov, with a goal and an assist, Alexander Khovanov, Pavel Dorofeyev, Nikita Rtischev, Yegor Sokolov and Grigory Denisenko scored for Russia, which rebounded in impressive fashion from a 4-3 upset loss to the host Czech Republic on Boxing Day.

Miftakhov, who started in place of Yaroslav Askarov after the 17-year-old phenom was pulled in that one, registered 28 saves for the shutout.

Nico Daws allowed four goals on 17 shots for Canada before getting the hook in favour of Joel Hofer, who finished with 20 saves.

Along with the loss of its best player, Saturday’s performance surely ranks as one of the worst for Canada in the event’s 44-year history.

In other Group B action, Germany stunned the Czechs 4-3 for the country’s first victory at the tournament since 2013.

The Canadians, Russians, Czechs, Americans and Germans all sit with 1-1 records in what was dubbed a “Group of Death” in the build-up. Canada will look to regroup Monday against upstart Germany, while Russia and the U.S. meet Sunday.

READ MORE: Lafrenière has 4 points, Canada roars back to beat U.S. 6-4 at world juniors

Canada fell 2-1 to the Russians in the final round-robin game of last year’s tournament in Vancouver and Victoria, to set up a tough quarterfinal matchup with Finland. The hosts subsequently lost that one 2-1 in overtime to finish a disappointing sixth on home soil.

Coming off that emotional victory over the U.S. where they fell behind 2-0 in the first and scored late after blowing a 4-2 lead, the Canadians were once again on the back foot early.

Khovanov opened the scoring just 1:44 in when Daws couldn’t track a shot off his blocker and fell backwards as the puck came to a rest just over the goal line.

Canada had a couple chances at the other end, but the Russians made it 2-0 at 10:14 when Dorofeyev found himself alone in front to roof a backhand past a down-and-out Daws.

The Canadians, who have won the world juniors a record 17 times, then killed off a penalty, but Rtischev scored from the slot at 13:43 to make it 3-0.

Daws was whistled for tripping less than a minute later and Jacob Bernard-Docker went off for holding the stick to hand the Russians a 5-on-3 power play for 49 seconds, but Canada held firm after giving up three goals on five American power-play opportunities on Thursday.

After losing Lafreniere early in the second on a man advantage, the shell-shocked Canadians gave up a fourth goal when Alexandrov swept in front and tucked a shot past Daws, who is playing in his first-ever international tournament, at 2:18 to end the netminder’s night.

Also green on this stage, Hofer made a couple saves after joining the fray, but Sokolov tipped a point shot home with 6:51 remaining in the second and the rout was truly on at 5-0.

Last year’s bronze medallists kept coming, and Denisenko scored off the rush with 3:36 left in the period before jumping against the boards in celebration near one of the Maple Leaf flags dotting the pro-Canadian crowd.

The desperate Russians were the better team from start to finish after losing to the Czechs, but goaltending was Canada’s biggest question mark coming into the tournament in Ostrava and Trinec, now along with Lafreniere’s uncertain status, that remains the case.

To put things in perspective, the Canadians gave up four goals in four round-robin games last year.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

IIHF world junior hockey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fisheries and Oceans Canada lifts at-sea observer requirements due to COVID-19

Fisheries Management Order went into effect April 2 and will remain for 45 days

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

Northern Health says it’s ready for possibility of COVID-19 surge

Health authority confident with inventory of ventilators

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Sinclar Group curtailing all sawmill operations temporarily

Nechako Lumber, Apollo Forest Products and Lakeland Mills to be curtailed for three weeks starting April 5.

As 240K apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

Easter Bunny not a COVID-19 carrier, allowed to do drop offs

World Health Organization grants permission to Bunny as he cannot transfer the virus

COVID-19 world update: 1,000 cases hit U.S. military; Good news in Spain, Portugal

Comprehensive collection of coronavirus news from around the world

Most Read