Oliver Bonk had a tough fight ahead of him to make Canada's final roster for the World Juniors. He impressed during camp and would earn a spot on the final roster. This would be the first official time Bonk would put on the maple leaf to represent his country. He did play five games for Canada on the U18 team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, winning the gold medal.
Unfortunately for Bonk and Canada, their World Juniors have ended in a stunning loss to Czechia in the quarterfinals. And for Bonk, this one is going to sting for a bit. Canada was 11 seconds away from getting the game to overtime when Jakub Štancl fired a shot toward the net. It was an innocent shot that may have gone wide if it hadn't been touched. Bonk got his foot on it, causing it to redirect past Mathis Rousseau.
It's not that Bonk did the wrong thing in this situation. As a defenseman, you want to get your stick, or your body, on the other team's shot to block it. In this instance, Bonk may have been turning away from the shot to give his goaltender a clean look at it. It is also possible he was trying to get his body in the way somehow. Nonetheless, this is where the puck rebounds off his skate and makes it almost impossible for Rousseau to stop, as he had already committed to the original location of the shot.
It is a heartbreaking exit for Bonk and Canada. It was tough to see Canada making a run, as their roster was extremely inexperienced at this level. They were second in group play and had only given up seven goals, though. 18 of the 20 players who took to the ice registered at least a point during the tournament. So, the group seemed to be working well together. Bonk himself had three points in five games, all assists.
While this will sting a while, getting this experience can only help Bonk as he heads back to the London Knights. He showed Canada what he can do if given the chance. Who's to say this doesn't fuel Bonk for the rest of the season? Denver Barkey has been on fire since he was cut from Canada's camp. Bonk was already having a good season for the Knights, with 30 points in 28 games. He was getting time in all situations, earning even more of a role on the team.
The Knights are back in action on Wednesday, but it may be more likely that Bonk returns to the lineup this weekend. Regardless, look for him to make an instant impact upon his return.