EDMONTON — There’s something a few defenceman like Owen Energy that makes hockey folks drool. One thing that screams pillar, or constructing block. A participant on which a whole franchise might be balanced. One which even the Buffalo Sabres can’t screw up.
An amazing younger World Junior goalie? We’ve seen scads of them star right here on the WJC, however then fail to pan out on the subsequent stage. For each Roberto Luongo there are two or three Jeff Glass’, for each Carey Value a Zach Fucale and a Justin Pogge.
An elite ahead like Mason McTavish? Hey, don’t get me unsuitable. The Anaheim Geese aren’t complaining about including this yr’s phenom ahead on the WJC to a workforce additionally that includes Trevor Zegras, who was the identical factor right here a yr in the past.
Energy, nonetheless, is completely different. Defencemen are completely different.
The world during which Energy doesn’t grow to be a 1,000-game, 25-minute defenceman within the NHL is, frankly, nonexistent proper now.
He’s Chris Pronger. He’s Alex Pietrangelo.
He’s the uncommon No. 1 defenceman who will sooner or later dictate the tempo of NHL video games the way in which Larry Robinson as soon as did, or Brad Park.
Subsequent recreation: Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. ET vs. Austria pic.twitter.com/enD5U1G7mF
— Group Canada (@TeamCanada) December 27, 2021
“The passing, the skating, the capturing, it speaks for itself. It’s elite,” stated Group Canada head coach Dave Cameron, after Energy grew to become the primary Canadian defenceman ever to notch a World Junior hat trick in a 6-3 win over Czechia. “However it’s his calmness. The entire stability that he brings. He’s capable of maintain that even keel, and he’s achieved it on the Worlds, he’s achieved it at Michigan, and he’s achieved it now right here on the World Juniors.
“The flexibility to play that prime efficiency recreation, with a calmness. I’m unsure you possibly can train that.”
The mixture of Energy’s property usually are not described in any textual content e book, or mapped out in any teaching drills.
Are you able to train six-foot-five and 214 kilos? Are you able to train a stride like Darnell Nurse, or puck-handling with the aplomb of a 750-game NHL veteran? In Energy’s first recreation on the World Juniors, he scored 3 times, had six photographs on objective and performed 21:48, all recreation highs.
Consider all the nice defencemen who’ve pulled a Group Canada sweater over their heads at this event, from Shea Weber to Scott Niedermayer, from Larry Murphy to Duncan Keith. None have authored a hat trick on this event, and Energy did it in his first recreation.
Owen Energy! HAT TRICK pic.twitter.com/640sJQuc30
— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) December 27, 2021
“I used to be fairly shocked. There was a ton of fairly good gamers come and play in these tournaments. I had no concept that nobody had bought a hat trick,” he stated after the sport. “It’s the primary hat trick I’ve ever had. To do it on this stage and carrying a Canadian jersey is fairly particular.”
This can be Energy’s final season on the College of Michigan, earlier than becoming a member of a workforce in Buffalo that has had as many swings on the proverbial “first general draft” plate because the membership that calls Rogers Place house. He could detour by way of Beijing nonetheless — it’s laborious to think about a group of non-NHL Canadian gamers amongst whom the 19-year-old Energy wouldn’t be their greatest blue-liner.
“He got here as marketed. His poise with the puck, he has an actual low panic threshold. He can defend pucks…” started Cameron. “To be in comparison with Chris Pronger, Chris had that imply streak. I don’t see Owen attending to that stage. I coached towards, and had Pietrangelo on a World Junior workforce, and I see lots of similarities there. That capability to flee beneath strain.”
Talking of which, this was as shut as Canada has come to having to flee from a severe check by Czechia in an extended whereas, forcing Cameron to make use of an early timeout when Czechia went forward 3-1 simply 12:23 into the sport.
Getting attention-grabbing right here in Edmonton, because the Czechs go up 3-1 and Canada calling a day out.
Canada not used to being challenged like this by Czechs. Will make for a a lot better recreation.
— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) December 27, 2021
Canada had not trailed for a single second finally yr’s World Juniors till the gold-medal recreation. In Recreation 1 this season, the Czechs scored 3 times in a single interval towards the Canadians, the primary time in WJC historical past for Czechia.
“That timeout was large,” Energy stated. “It settled us down, and we simply did a greater job at preserving guys in entrance of us. Not attempting to pressure something and cheat for offence.”
Cameron is a veteran of this stuff — that is his fourth event behind a Canadian bench as both an assistant or head coach.
“One of many issues we mentioned all week as a training employees was, we didn’t know what the hell to anticipate within the first 10 minutes,” he stated. “We’d performed one recreation, that they had not performed any. We knew it will be a little bit of an journey. Junior hockey at its best.”
The excellent news? Usually instances, the primary adversity Canada faces doesn’t come till the medal spherical — when failure to beat means going house, typically empty-handed. This was a pleasant little bump within the street, surprising however not unwelcome by Cameron and his employees.
“It’s at all times nice to have adversity once you win the hockey recreation,” the coach stated. “That is my fourth World Juniors, and the factor I’ve discovered is, anticipate the surprising. It by no means goes the way in which you draw it up. It’s your workforce’s capability to have the ability to adapt.
“The adversity was good, as a result of we gained. Hopefully we will study and develop from that.”