Jr. A Cornwall Colts thought it was once in a lifetime on Thursday night when they faced Team Sweden.
The memories of the event are likely to grow sweeter as the sting of a lopsided result wears off.
Team Sweden, to no one’s surprise really, was a step ahead of the Colts from the start, scoring on their first shot 12 seconds into the game and lighting the lamp a dozen times over the three periods for a shutout win in a World Junior A hockey championship victory on the civil complex.
The Colts have dropped five straight Central Canada Hockey League games, including a 6-4 loss Tuesday night at home to Rockland. Two nights later, the score didn’t count, and Sweden isn’t Rockland — it’s a national team that some observers believe could be a solid contender at the WJAC, which starts Sunday.
Each team at the event plays an exhibition match. But it’s only a five-team tournament – held for the first time since 2019 – and Russia is not taking part, so getting the call to Sweden was the Colts, who made their last appearance at the Ed Lumley Arena until early January.
Overall for the CCHL it has been a very good week. Just before a member team was allowed to play Sweden, four CCHL players were told they had earned spots on Team Canada East, including Landon Brownlee of the Hawkesbury Hawks.
Brownlee, an 18-year-old forward from Finch, played some of his minor hockey with the Seaway Valley Rapids and Eastern Ontario Wild organizations, and is in his second junior A campaign with the Hawkesbury.
Last year, as a rookie, Brownlee had 16 points in 53 contests. This campaign has been a breakout year for him so far – he has 25 points (14 goals) in just 22 CCHL games.
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Other CCHL players named to Team Canada East are blue-liners Ty Campbell (Smiths Falls Bears) and Joseph Ianniello (Navan Grads), and forward Massimo Gentile (Ottawa Jr. Senators).
The 22-player roster was selected by head coach Billy McGuigan (Summerside, PEI/Summerside, MHL), along with director of operations Chris Vanstone (Mississauga, Ont./Ontario Junior Hockey League).
“We had a very competitive selection camp (early this week), and it was a great opportunity to come together in Cornwall and have our players compete for a spot on Team Canada East,” McGuigan said. “We are confident in the team we have selected and our staff.”
Canada East opens the 2022 World Junior A Hockey Challenge against Latvia on Sunday at 1 p.m., followed by Canada West hosting the United States at 5 p.m.
The event runs for one week, with medal games on Sunday, December 18, and note that TSN and RDS, official broadcast partners of Hockey Canada, will broadcast the bronze and gold medal games; all other games will be streamed live at HockeyCanada.ca.
As for Cornwall in Thursday’s exhibition opener, it didn’t take long for Sweden to let the Colts know this is a whole other level of hockey, as Otto Stenberg connected at the 12-second mark and beat starting goaltender Dax Easter.
Simon Zether made it 2-0 at 3:06, and the goals kept coming — it was 6-0 after one period, the first five even markers, and followed by a power play by Anton Wahlberg with 16 seconds left. the frame.
The Colts gave goaltender Donald Hickey an opportunity to experience international hockey to start the second session, and the period went much better for Cornwall, the Swedes scoring just two points, once on a power play.
It was 9-0 deep into the final frame, but Sweden had a flurry of goals in the final four minutes.
Give the Colts credit, though – they got high marks for work ethic and, despite the score, looked like a team that deserved an opportunity to share the ice with an obviously very skilled opponent.
But the intensity could only carry Cornwall so far. When it was a Colts defensive miscue, the Swedes seem to pounce on the opportunity and make it a point. They were also quite good at creating their own chances, without any help whatsoever.
Noah Erliden recorded the shutout for Sweden, who outshot the Colts 50-21.
There was more pre-tournament action on Friday, with Canada West skating in a matinee against Latvia, and Canada East battling the USA at night.