It took time on the ice for Quinton Byfield to pick up speed again.
“Definitely, at camp, not playing hockey for eight to nine months definitely affects a little bit,” said Byfield. “I had to calm down a little, almost, and I found my balance.”
After recording just one assist in two tournament games, Byfield exploded to a pair of goals and added four assists while Team Canada dominated Team Switzerland 10-0 on Tuesday night to remain undefeated in the 2021 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.
Selected second overall in the 2020 NHL Draft by the Los Angeles Kings, expectations were high at Byfield and five other returning players who won gold for Canada at the 2020 World Juniors in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Although the team scored 19 combined goals in two games of the tournament, Byfield’s absence from the scoresheet stood out.
“I told all players to return that it would be even tougher on them,” said Canada coach Andre Tourigny. “We asked Q to make adjustments and he responded. He is a more mature man than he was last year.”
Byfield’s performance has helped stimulate Canada in its most complete effort to date.
Jack Quinn made three assists for Canada (3-0-0-0). Jakob Pelletier scored twice. Dylan Cozens, Philip Tomasino, Ryan Suzuki, Connor McMichael, Cole Perfetti and Kaiden Guhle also scored in the win.
Devon Levi managed his first shutout in the tournament with 15 saves, although he was not tested for much of the night.
Switzerland (0-0-0-3) struggled to generate an attack against Canada.
Swiss goalkeeper Noah Patenaude was busy making 42 saves.
Canada, looking to rekindle their attack after the 3-1 victory over Slovakia on Sunday, struggled early to put their power play on track. In the first period, they had a two-man lead to 1:12, but failed to beat Patenaude.
Canada wasted no time in entering the scoresheet with uniform strength. Tomasino scored in his third consecutive game to give Canada a 1-0 lead. A long shot hit Patenaude over his blocker. Byfield and Quinn chose assists at 1:30 of the first period.
Despite having beaten Switzerland by 13-3 on 20 minutes, Canada’s lead was only 1-0.
After making 0-3 in the first half, Canada was eliminated in the game of strength in the second period.
Cozens deflected a rebound from a quick kick by Perfetti and recovered his rebound before beating Patenaude, and Canada gained a 2-0 lead. McMichael received secondary assistance at 1:40.
Pelletier made it 3-0 after receiving a hit on Connor Zary’s edges. Byfield got his second assist for the second point of the match at 8:02.
The floodgates opened when Suzuki scored in the power play at 13:44. Byfield received his third assist that night and Alex Newhook took the secondary assistant.
Cozens added his second point of the night in a central pass to McMichael for a quick shot that took the 5-0 lead at 17:53.
Canada overcame Switzerland 24-3 in the middle.
“This was our best period, without a doubt,” said Tourigny of the third.
Byfield continued his offensive production in the third period. He scored Canada’s third goal of the game in a deflection in front of the net at 5:16.
Byfield added his second goal of the game and fifth point of the night at 8:07 am.
The second goal of Perfetti, Guhle and Pelletier completed the score for Canada. Byfield got his fourth assist in Pelletier’s second goal
Byfield had only one assist in two games at the World Youth Championship before his productive Tuesday night.
Canada will face its toughest challenge when it faces Team Finland to finish the preliminary round on Thursday. .
Switzerland have scored just one goal in three games of the tournament and need a regulatory victory over the Germany team in their final game to avoid elimination.
NOTES: Canadian defender Braden Schneider returned to the team after serving a one-game suspension for his illegal check to Jan-Luca Schumacher’s 16-2 victory over Germany over the weekend. Striker Dylan Holloway also returned after losing the team’s 3-1 win over Slovakia on Sunday due to an upper body injury.