CANADA DROPS PRELIMS CLOSER TO SWEDEN
HELSINKI, Finland – Mitchell Stephens (Peterborough, Ont./Saginaw, OHL) scored his first goal and Mitchell Marner (Thornhill, Ont./London, OHL) his second, but penalty trouble proved to be the undoing of Canada’s National Junior Team, as it surrendered three power play goals and fell 5-2 to Sweden in its final preliminary round game of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Thomas Chabot (Sainte-Marie-de-Beauce, Que./Saint John, QMJHL), Joe Hicketts (Kamloops, B.C./Victoria, WHL) and Dylan Strome (Mississauga, Ont./Erie, OHL) picked up assists.
Mackenzie Blackwood (Thunder Bay, Ont./Barrie, OHL) took the loss in net. The first game between the two countries since 2011 was a penalty-filled affair, with the teams whistled for a combined 17 minors.
Only 17 seconds into its first power play, Sweden struck. Blackwood stopped Dmytro Timashov’s shot on the rush but sent a big rebound out to an unmarked Alexander Nylander, who put the puck into an open net.
Penalty trouble cost Canada again less than three minutes later. The team successful killed off a short Swedish two-man advantage, but only five seconds after Rourke Chartier (Saskatoon, Sask./Kelowna, WHL) returned to the ice to make it a five-on-four, Gustav Forsling sent a screened wrist shot from the high slot past Blackwood low glove side.
Stephens got one back for Canada late in the first. After cycling the puck along the boards, he sent it to Chabot at the blue line. The defenceman’s shot was stopped, but Stephens drove toward the net to pounce on the rebound.
Sweden’s two-goal lead was restored at the 13:38 mark of the second period. Axel Holmstrom sent a cross-crease pass to Adrian Kempe, who one-timed it into the back of the net.
The advantage became three seven minutes into the third. Blackwood made the initial save on a deflected point shot, but Anton Karlsson put in the rebound from the top of the crease.
Canada’s troubled penalty kill got a boost midway through the period by erasing a two-man disadvantage that lasted 1:53. Shortly after, it was given its own five-on-three – and with it, its best chance to get back in the game.
Only five seconds in Marner went top corner with a slap shot. But the team couldn’t cut the deficit down after that.
Rasmus Asplund added an empty-netter with 11 seconds to go to wrap up the scoring.
Canada finished in third place in Group A and next faces Finland in the quarter-finals on Saturday (11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT).