Canada opens world junior hockey championship with win over Latvia

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Connor Bedard had a goal and an assist and Canada opened play in the postponed world junior hockey championship with a 5-2 victory over Latvia on Wednesday night.

The tournament was rescheduled after being called off Dec. 29 after four days as rising COVID-19 cases forced games to be forfeited.

"It always feels good to score, especially that first one of the tournament,'' said the 17-year-old Bedard, the early favorite to go first overall in the 2023 NHL draft. "I think it's always exciting no matter who gets it. So definitely felt good. And it was cool to kind of be going to the corner and seeing some fans.''

Ridly Greig and William Dufour also each had a goal and an assist for Canada in the Group A game. Lukas Cormier and Olen Zellweger also scored, captain Mason McTavish had two assists and Sebastian Cossa made 24 saves.

"I know a coach is never happy with the game, but considering the time of year and where we're at in this tournament, I think it was good,'' Canadian coach Dave Cameron said.

Rainers Darzins and Bogdans Hodass scored for Latvia, a 6-1 loser to Finland in its opener Tuesday. Patriks Berzins stopped 39 shots.

The Canadians will continue round-robin play Thursday against Slovakia.

Earlier in Group B, Daniel Torgersson scored twice in Sweden's 3-2 victory over Switzerland.

Isak Rosen also scored for Sweden, and Jesper Wallstedt made 21 saves. Attilio Biasca and Dario Allenspach scored for Switzerland.

In the late game, Alexander Blank had a natural hat trick in Germany's 4-2 victory over Austria in Group B. Blank scored the three goals in an 8:26 span of the second period, with the last two on power plays.

The United States, a 5-1 winner over Germany on Tuesday, will face Switzerland on Thursday night.