Schneider faces suspension & big game for Berard

New York Rangers prospect Braden Schneider was ejected from Team Canada’s WJC game and could be suspended

If you are a New York Rangers fan and wanted to see first round draft pick Braden Schneider play against Germany, if you tuned in after the nine minute mark, you missed him.  That’s because he was ejected from the game for an illegal hit to the head.  He also was tagged with a five minute major for “Checking to the head and neck area.” Based on the hit, it’s likely he will be suspended for at least one game.

In looking at the hit, there’s no doubt that he hit German forward Jan-Luca Schumacher up high.   There is a huge difference in size between the two players. Schneider is a big player at 6’2″, 209 pounds, compared to Schumacher who is 5’9″, 168 pounds.  With Schumacher hunched over and Scheider standing up straight, the difference was even more dramatic and it would have been difficult to throw a check like that without coming in contact with Schumacher’s upper body.

Schneider’s physicality was one reason the Rangers traded up to draft him at #19 overall in the NHL Entry Draft.   It looks like he fits the team’s mandate to become harder to play against.

It almost seems unfair to hit the German players.  They are down to only 14 skaters due to numerous COVID-19 positive tests.  Without Schumacher they were down to 13. That’s three forward lines and two and a half defense pairings.  The good news is Schumacher shook off the hit and returned to play.

It was very one-sided contest with Canada winning 16-2.  The only question for New York fans was whether Canadian coach Andre Tourigny would let Ranger draft pick goalie Dylan Garand get some ice time.  Sure enough, Garand played the third period,   He came in with Canada ahead 11-1 and stopped four of five shots as Canada outscored Germany 5-1 in the  third period.  Germany managed only 15 shots on goal while Canada had 44.

Canada next takes on Slovakia on Sunday at 6pm (EST).

Team USA rebounds

Team USA took on Austria in their second game of the tournament, looking to rebound from a 5-3 loss to Russia on Christmas Day.  Ranger prospect Brett Berard picked up exactly where he left off.  Coach Nate Leaman left the line of Berard, John Faranucci and Bobby Brink together and if there was an energy line on the team, this was it.  Berard remained impressive, in the first period alone he led two rushes in the Austria zone and on the second,  rang the puck off the goalpost.  Here is the line’s first shift of the game.

It was a tight contest after one period, with the USA clinging to a 1-0 lead.  They broke it open in the second period, scoring six times en route to an11-0 victory.  Berard had another dynamic game, with one goal and two assists.

He got an assist on John Farinacci’s second period goal and added another in the third period on a score by Sam Colangelo.

His goals was simply spectacular.  He took the puck in center ice and with a burst of speed broke by the Austrian defenders to curl in front of the net and put the puck home.

While his speed is clearly one of his best assets, what’s noticeable is how he consistently goes to the net. He is always in front of the crease, screening the goalie and looking for a rebound.

It was another impressive performance by Berard and a dominant game for the USA as they finished with 73 shots on goal to only 10 for Austria.  The Austrian player of the game was their goalie Sebastian Wraneschitz.  It’s not often a goalie who allows 11 goals is the team’s best player.

For the second game in a row, defenseman Hunter Skinner was a healthy scratch.

Other games

Sweden extended its record preliminary round winning streak to 53 games, beating the Czech Republic 7-1.  Sweden last lost in the prelims in 2006 and many consider that streak in doubt considering that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused several top Swedish players to miss the tournament, including Rangers prospect Karl Henriksson.

Next up for Canada and the USA

We should find out pretty quickly if Braden Schneider is going to be suspended.  If he has to sit for one game, it will be Team Canada’s 6pm EST match on Sunday against Slovakia.   In the meantime, Team USA is off for two days with their next contest on Tuesday versus the Czech Republic at 3pm EST.  All games will be televised on the NHL Network.   Canada also plays on Tuesday, versus Switzerland at 6pm EST.