CANADA SCORES FOUR UNANSWERED, BEATS RUSSIA IN SHOWCASE OPENER
CALGARY, Alta. – A goal from Joe Hicketts (Kamloops, B.C./Victoria, WHL) in the first minute of the second period stood up as the winner as Canada topped Russia 4-1 in the opening game of the Sport Chek World Junior Showcase on Monday night.
The first period started with both teams flying, an almost surprising pace for an early August exhibition game.
The first whistle didn’t come until the 3:52 mark of the opening frame, and it came when Damir Sharipzyanov’s wrist shot from the slot found its way under the arm of Mason MacDonald (Halifax, N.S./Charlottetown, QMJHL) and past the Canadian goaltender.
Mitchell Stephens (Peterborough, Ont./Saginaw, OHL) responded just over seven minutes later, tapping in a gorgeous cross-net pass from John Quenneville (Edmonton, Alta./Brandon, WHL), while Vince Dunn (Lindsay,Ont./Niagara, OHL) earned the second assist.
Hicketts was the beneficiary of spectacular stick-handling from Mitchell Marner (Thornhill, Ont./London, OHL), who found the defenceman pinching in to give Canada the lead for good at 41 seconds of the middle frame.
“He is a skilled player, and I think we’ve seen that on the PK, power play or whenever he had the puck,” Hicketts said of Marner. “You know those types of players are nice to have on your team and he has been a great guy and hopefully I will get to know him a little more going forward.”
Marner created scoring chances all night with his speed and creativity, and was the most exciting player on the ice for either side. His puck handling and skating skills were superior and his vision was impeccable.
Canada gained a two-goal lead before the midway mark of the second period, with Spencer Watson (London, Ont./Kingston, OHL) snapping a shot off the near post to beat Russian netminder Maxim Tretiak.
Dylan Strome (Mississauga,Ont./Erie, OHL) added a little more insurance for the boys in red and white, taking advantage of a Michael Dal Colle set-up and beating Tretiak for the 4-1 goal.
MacDonald stopped 16 of the 17 shots he faced, while as Tretiak had steered aside 23 of 27.
Canada is back at it Tuesday night, facing the Czech Republic (5:30 p.m. MT) in the second of four games.