By Steven Ellis – Eurohockey.com
Team Canada has finished the round-robin with a 4-0 victory over South Korea, earning a bye to the men’s Olympic quarter-finals in the process.
Canada was dominant out of the gate as expected, taking 15 shots in the first eight minutes alone. Matt Dalton, a Canadian-born ex-pat representing South Korea at the Olympics, put on a shot, making 18 saves in the opening 20 minutes. For Dalton, his performance was similar to how he played against Canada at the Channel One Cup in December, where he stopped 53 shots in a 4-2 loss, one of the greatest games ever played by the Koreans.
The 14th opportunity would be the one that would finally break the Clinton, Ontario native. At 7:36, former Montreal Canadiens prospect Christian Thomas ripped a hard wrist shot over Dalton to make it 1-0 for Team Canada, with the goal being Thomas’ first at the tournament.
Korea looked strong in the first half of the second period, with a couple of power plays giving them a chance. But Canada would still get the game’s second goal after Eric O’Dell knocked the bouncing puck out of the air in the crease past Dalton’s right pad, with the fourth liner scoring his first Olympic goal to make it 2-0 for the Canadians.
Canada needed a four-goal differential to secure a bye to the quarter-finals, and they reached that goal before the game came to a close. At 3:43, Derek Roy sent Maxim Lapierre down the wing unchallenged. Lapierre somehow squeaked the puck from a tough angle underneath Dalton’s left pad and in, giving Canada the 3-0 lead with most of the third period left to play. Gilbert Brule would score one late and Kevin Poulin would save all 19 shots directed his way, giving Canada the 4-0 victory and a bye to the quarter-finals.
Canada will now focus their attention to the quarter-finals on Wednesday when they battle the winner of Finland vs South Korea in the qualification round on Tuesday, getting an extra day of rest before their first elimination game.