HOCKEY? ON TELEVISION? No, those aren’t vintage clips you saw on TSN tonight; hockey federations around the world taking advantage of the various offseasons to try out their best young talent in anticipation of the 2016 World Juniors. Team Canada are one of those countries, and as such have created a four game mini-series in Calgary. Tonight, the first game was played against Russia, and Leafs draft pick Mitch Marner stood out as one of the most dominant players on the ice.
Uhh, what is this sorcery? Marner jump dekes a couple of guys, skates back, protects the puck with two Russians on his tail, begins to break out, realizes that he’s got another forechecker on him, and dumps the puck out. He kills thirteen seconds of the penalty, not including the dump, and more importantly makes his opponents look like beer leaguers. But that wasn’t all; just a few minutes earlier, he picked up an assist.
Gorgeous. Marner enters the zone with ease, gives his supporting players plenty of room to set themselves up, gets the Russian defensive corpse to collapse into themselves, and gives Joe Hicketts all the room in the world to make his magic happen.
“He’s got tremendous confidence, and with that confidence is an incredible skillset.” TSN analyst Craig Button said after the game, calling it a typical showing for the 4th overall pick. “What sets Marner apart is his ability to see plays… if you’re playing with him, you have to be ready for the puck to be on your stick.”
Travis Dermott also played in this game, and picked up a roughing minor in the second period.
Canada has one more game against Russia to play on Wednesday night, and faces the Czech Republic on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
Hat tip to Adam Herman for the clips.