Canada's Drake Batherson after one of his two goals in the quarter-finals against Switzerland. Photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images
Canadian forward scored twice in quarters
Drake Batherson scored twice in Canada’s 8-2 thumping of Switzerland in Tuesday’s quarter-finals, but felt he could’ve had more.
With Canada already leading 4-0 near the midway mark of the second period, Jordan Kyrou broke his stick while receiving a pass. The St. Louis Blues prospect went back to the Canadian bench looking for a stick when Batherson volunteered his.
“He was just waiting at the door, he’s a righty, I knew he’s a righty,” Batherson said. “Tossed him mine, he flew right back out there, nice shot and scored. That was pretty funny. I’ve never experienced something like that before: giving a player my stick and then he scores a goal with it. We had a good laugh after. It was pretty funny.”
Kyrou, who has a team-leading five assists and seven points in five games, initially had trouble with his new stick.
“He said he kind of mishandled it a bit, mine’s a totally different curve than his, but I think he likes it now that he scored with it,” said Batherson. “He gave me the point (after he scored). I thought maybe I’d get the third assist or something there.”
Batherson has had no trouble finding the back of the net himself. The 19-year-old has a team-leading four goals in five games heading into Thursday’s semi-final matchup against the Czech Republic.
“I think I’ve progressed like the team, from Game 1 to here we are now,” he said. “Just felt out the tournament a bit and just building more confidence every game and just getting better.”
The Ottawa Senators prospect has progressed in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season as well scoring 17 goals and 39 points through the first 24 games with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles after notching 58 points all of last season.
He may have a new team when he returns to the QMJHL as the Screaming Eagles have reportedly traded Batherson to Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.
“From where I’ve come two years ago, I never thought I’d be playing the World Juniors here in Buffalo or anything like that. It’s just hard work paying off and here, I am and I’m having a blast,” said Batherson.
The Senators have taken note of Batherson’s development.
Drafted in the fourth round at the 2017 NHL Draft, the six-foot-two, 188-pound forward signed his entry-level contract with the Senators in October after impressing the club’s brass at camp.
“From what we’ve seen since training camp, he’s definitely raised his game a notch,” said Sens GM Pierre Dorion. “I think his play away from the puck has gotten better and I think his consistency and work ethic have all improved from what we saw at camp.”
Dorion was in the building for Batherson’s two-goal performance on Tuesday and had many positives to take away.
“What I’ve liked about him is obviously his offensive awareness, his shot, his skill, his ability to generate offence from the blue line-in have all been very good at this tournament,” said Dorion. “On top of that, I’ve really been impressed by his work ethic and his battle for pucks.”
As Batherson looks to take the next step in his hockey career and earn a longer look from the Senators next season, Dorion says the forward will need to work on his size.
“The one thing (he has to do) is get stronger for the pro game,” he said. “Obviously it’s always play away from the puck. We know he’s got the talent and tools to be an NHL player, but at the end of the day, he’s got to make sure that he can be reliable when he’s out there.”