SECOND PERIOD OUTBURST LEADS CANADA OVER FINNS AT U18 WORLDS
JASON LA ROSE
ZUG, Switzerland – Tyler Benson (Edmonton, Alta./Vancouver, WHL) capped a three-goals-in-seven-minutes spurt with the game-winner late in the second period, and Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team finished a perfect preliminary round at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship with a 3-2 win over Finland on Tuesday.
The victory gives Canada top spot in Group B, and sets up a quarter-final against Sweden or Slovakia on Wednesday, depending on the outcome of the Sweden-Russia game later Tuesday.
Mathew Barzal (Coquitlam, B.C./Seattle, WHL) and Thomas Chabot (Ste-Marie-de-Beauce, Que./Saint John, QMJHL) had a goal and an assist each for Canada, which trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes before taking over.
The Finns grabbed an early lead just nine minutes in when Aleksi Saarela knocked a rebound past Canadian goaltender Evan Cormier (Bowmanville, Ont./Saginaw, OHL), and Patrik Laine doubled the advantage in the final minute of the opening frame, converting on a two-on-one opportunity.
Canada finally solved the Finnish PK – which had not allowed a goal in 14 chances through three games.
First it was Barzal, taking a feed from Chabot and rifling a wrist shot over the glove of Finnish netminder Veini Vehvilainen just shy of the midway mark of the second period to make it 2-1.
Barzal returned the favour on another man advantage just 66 seconds later, slipping a pass to Chabot, whose low shot glanced off theleg of a Finnish penalty killer and just inside the post past Vehvilainen, tying the game.
Benson gave Canada the lead for good at 16:21, driving the net and sneaking the puck through the legs of Vehvilainen for his first goal of the tournament.
Cormier was solid again in picking up his second win in as many starts; he finished with 31 saves, turning aside all 21 shots he faced over the last 40 minutes.
Canada kept Finland’s deadly power play at bay; the Finns went goalless on five chances, after scoring eight times on 22 opportunities – a tournament-leading 36.4% success rate – in its first three games.