WJC Game Night: 12/31

World Junior Championships
Canada 7 vs. USA 4
W Dana Tyrell, CAN: Did not play (injured - out for tournament).
G Dustin Tokarski, CAN: Win, 22 saves on 26 shots

What a game.

For the Lightning prospect side, this was a tale of two Tokarskis. Dustin was downright awful in the first period and quite frankly was extremely lucky to stay in the game. But Canada Head Coach Pat Quinn left the former Memorial Cup MVP in the game and he was rewarded in the late second period with Canada protecting a 5-4 lead over the U.S. in a see-saw battle between the two rivals. Tokarski would make two remarkable saves late in the second period, including one on Nashville first rounder Colin Wilson that the Canadian media is calling “The Save.” Wilson was left alone in front of Tokarski and deked him to the backhand, but his shot into an open net was swiped away by Tokarski’s lunging glove save. Just minutes earlier he performed an old school-style pad stacking to rob his Spokane teammate Dustin Bowman from in front to preserve the one goal lead.

The game was 5-4 until the final minute of the third period with Tokarski holding the lead for Canada with 2-3 big saves late.

That was the good.

Tokarski started this game giving up a weak wrister to his stick side on the first shot he saw. He was then beat while Canada was killing a 5-on-3 on a good goal originating from a pass from behind the net in front. Tokarski had just made two big saves on the penalty kill before that goal.

With Canada trailing 2-0 Tokarski again let in a soft goal from the same wing – same side prompting speculation he would be pulled.

As Tokarski told the Canadian Press, he was given the choice to fold or fight his way out of the hole, and as former Lightning Chief Scout Jake Goertzen said about Tokarski after drafting him, "he's a fighter."

Tokarski endured some boos and Bronx cheers from the Ottawa crowd to end the first, and was average in the second before directing a rebound off a teammates leg that trickled in behind him for an unlucky fourth goal against.

Canada would get their fifth moments later, and then Tokarski performed his heroics to shut the door.

John Tavares was player of the game for Canada with three goals, including one of Canada’s two empty net markers.

USA now plays Slovakia in the quarterfinals, while Canada will enjoy a bye to the semis.