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Matthew Wood Flashes Scoring Touch In World Juniors Rout Of Latvia

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Matthew Wood
Photo of Matthew Wood by Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff

After being kept off the scoresheet while playing a little over six minutes in Canada’s 5-2 win over Finland in Tuesday’s IIHF World Junior Championship opener, Nashville Predators prospect Matthew Wood had a coming-out party in Wednesday’s 10-0 win over Latvia.

Working in as Canada’s 13th forward, Wood, the 15th overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, logged 10:21 of ice time across 15 shifts, scoring a goal and totaling three points with a team-high six shots on goal while seeing lots of time on Canada’s second power-play unit.

His first assist came early in the second period after blasting a one-timer on net that was tipped in by Owen Allard to give Canada a 3-0 lead. Wood set up just below the left face-off dot where he blasted a shot to goaltender Linards Feldbergs’ glove side that just caught a piece of Allard’s stick and trickled in.

 

Wood’s second assist came approximately 10 minutes later when he fired a stretch pass from the defensive zone and hit projected 2024 No. 1 overall pick Macklin Celebrini in stride near the Latvia blue line. Celebrini raced past a defenseman and beat Feldbergs with a deceptive backhand shot for a 4-0 lead.

 

Some of Wood’s best performances on the international stage have come playing alongside Celebrini, who he skated on a line with last year at the U18 Worlds. The duo combined for two goals and eight points on Wednesday.

“I was calling for (the puck), but that (pass) landed right on my tape,” Celebrini told The Canadian Press. “I don’t know how (Matthew Wood) got that to me.”

Wood’s most impressive moment of the game came in the third period when he stole the puck in the neutral zone, made a beeline for the net, held off a defender nipping at his heels and fired off a shot from right in front of the crease that trickled in to put Canada up 7-0.

 

It’s clear that Wood, who’s looked slower than most of Canada’s other skaters because of his long strides, is still having some issues adjusting to skating on bigger sheet of ice.

But by using the 18-year-old forward in a shooting specialist role and allowing him to focus primarily on generating shots and creating scoring chances, Team Canada head coach Alan Letang has found the perfect way to maximize Wood’s skillset.

Follow Michael Gallagher on X/Twitter @MGsports_