If Canada was expecting to rest on its laurels and cruise to the medal round at this year's world junior championship, the team was given a major wake-up call in its opening match.
Canada was thumped 5-2 by Czechia in its first game on Monday, leaving it in desperate need of a bounce-back effort against Germany on Wednesday in Halifax.
Canadian captain Shane Wright didn't overreact to the one-game sample size, but knows his team needs to be more dialled in from the opening faceoff moving forward.
"We've got to learn from this, got to move on from it. The gold medal is not won tonight," Wright said after the loss to Czechia. "We've got to respect our opponent a little more. We've got to make sure that we come in every single game ready to fight. We're going to get every team's best and every team wants to beat Canada."
Dylan Guenther, who along with Wright and Brandt Clarke is one of three NHLers loaned to Canada for the tournament, expressed the importance of simplifying the game instead of trying to fill the highlight reel. Canada attempted "The Michigan" twice against Czechia to no avail.
"We're not going to 'Michigan' our way to the final," Guenther said Tuesday. "We're trying it a lot. It's a skilled play. I get it. But I think that's kind of how our game's going right now. We're trying to skill our way through it. We're trying to toe-drag, beat guys one-on-one."
"You have to play the right way. Play together and play as a team. It starts with the simple side of the game — winning battles. Our skill ... there's no problem. It's the compete level."
Canada should be able to rebound for its first win of the tournament against Germany, but can't afford to take another opponent lightly. The Germans held Sweden to one goal in a 1-0 defeat on Tuesday after the Swedes routed Austria 11-0 on Monday.
Thomas Milic will start in goal for Canada. The Seattle Thunderbirds netminder stopped all 10 shots he faced against Czechia in relief of Benjamin Gaudreau, who was pulled after giving up five goals on 17 shots.
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