New York Islanders 2020 5th-round pick William Dufour wasn't on Team Canada's initial World Juniors Championship roster last December, but after a historic season with the Saint John Sea Dogs, he more than earned his spot for the rescheduled tournament. On Wednesday night in Edmonton, the Memorial Cup champion and QMJHL MVP proved he was deserving in his World Juniors debut.
Dufour scored a goal, added a primary assist, and displayed some physical play in Canada's 5-2 win over Latvia. Per Scott Wheeler, the goal was Dufour's 66th in his last 76 games, including his QMJHL season, the Memorial Cup, and the World Juniors.
The 20-year-old Dufour is set to turn pro this year after a magical QMJHL season. He was named QMJHL MVP after a 56-goal, 116-point season that broke the Saint John points record previously held by Calgary's Jonathan Huberdeau. Dufour signed a three-year entry-level deal with the Islanders in April and is expected to start the season in Bridgeport (AHL).
Canada and Latvia were tied 1-1 after the first period despite an 18-4 shot advantage for the Canadiens. Connor Bedard, the consensus projected No. 1 overall pick in 2023, opened the scoring. Canada broke the game open in the second, scoring three times. Lukas Cormier, Olen Zellweger and Ridly Greig had a goal each.
Dufour had the primary assist on Greig's highlight reel goal, playing a pass off the boards that sprung Greig free near center ice before he finished with a one-handed goal.
This was the second consecutive night Islanders fans watched one of their top prospects shine on the World Juniors stage. Aatu Räty scored a goal and added three assists in a 6-1 Finland win against Latvia on Tuesday. Both Dufour and Räty are in action on Thursday. Finland battles Czechia at 2 PM, and Team Canada faces off with Slovakia at 6 PM.