CANADA BEATS SWEDES TO STAY PERFECT AT U18 HLINKA CUP
JASON LA ROSE
PIESTANY, Slovakia – Mitchell Stephens (Peterborough, Ont./Saginaw, OHL) scored twice in the third period, helping Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team pull away in the final 20 minutes and earn a 5-1 win over Sweden on Tuesday at the 2014 U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.
It’s Canada’s second consecutive 5-1 win; it beat Switzerland by the same score in Monday’s tournament opener, and is all but assured of a spot in Friday’s semifinals thanks to its 2-0 start.
Travis Konecny (Clachan, Ont./Ottawa, OHL), Lawson Crouse (Mount Brydges, Ont./Kingston, OHL) and Jansen Harkins (North Vancouver, B.C./Prince George, WHL) had the other goals for Canada, while Tyler Soy (Surrey, B.C./Victoria, WHL) chipped in with two assists.
Zach Sawchenko (Calgary, Alta./Moose Jaw, WHL) had his second straight solid start in the Canadian goal, finishing with 27 saves.
The Swedes held a 12-8 advantage in shots on goal in a scoreless first period, thanks in large part to a pair of five-on-three power plays, but the best chance came off the stick of Harkins, who beat goaltender Felix Sandström, but not the post.
Konecny got the scoring started 6:36 into the second period with the Canadians enjoying the man advantage, taking a bounce off the end boards and beating Sandström to the short-side post for a 1-0 lead.
Crouse made it 2-0 eight minutes later, hammering in a centering pass from Nicolas Roy (Amos, Que./Chicoutimi, QMJHL), but the Swedes cut the lead in half two minutes after that thanks to Philip Magnusson.
The third period was all Canada, which outshot Sweden by a massive 24-7 margin in the final frame.
Stephens’ first goal, and second of the tournament, came just 3:21 into the period as he batted his own rebound past Sandström, and he added a second on a scramble in front at 12:09.
Harkins capped the scoring on a penalty shot with 3:14 to go, going five-hole on Sandström.
In total, Canada outshot Sweden 33-16 in the final two periods, and 41-28 overall.
The Canadians will try to wrap up a prefect preliminary round on Wednesday when they face host Slovakia at Zimny Stadion, with the puck set to drop at 11:30 a.m. ET/8:30 a.m. PT.