CANADA COMES BACK TO BEAT FINNS IN U18 OPENER
JASON LA ROSE
UMEÅ, Sweden – Brayden Tracey (Calgary, Alta./Moose Jaw, WHL) scored twice in the third period to complete the comeback and help Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team to a 5-3 win over Finland in the curtain-raiser for both teams Thursday at the 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship.
The Canadians trailed 3-0 just 61 seconds into the second period before rattling off five unanswered goals to open with three points against the defending gold medallists.
Tracey tied the game early in the third period on the power play, showing off slick hands in tight to tuck a shot around Finnish goaltender Roope Taponen, and he one-timed home a feed from Connor Zary (Saskatoon, Sask./Kamloops, WHL) with 5:29 left to give the Canadians their first lead at 4-3.
Jamieson Rees (Hamilton, Ont./Sarnia, OHL), Alex Newhook (St. John’s, N.L./Victoria, BCHL) and Peyton Krebs (Okotoks, Alta./Winnipeg, WHL) also scored for Canada, which got 39 saves from netminder Taylor Gauthier (Calgary, Alta./Prince George, WHL).
The Finns were quick to find the scoreboard in the first period, netting a pair of goals before the 12-minute mark.
Aky Räty opened the scoring at 7:27 when his quick shot from the slot hit the skate of Canadian defenceman Michael Vukojevic (Oakville, Ont./Kitchener, OHL) and eluded Gauthier, and Antti Saarela converted on a five-on-three at 11:59 to make it 2-0.
Gauthier was terrific in the opening 20 minutes, making 18 saves to keep his team close.
Anton Lundell stretched the Finnish lead to three at the 1:01 mark of the second period, but that would be the last puck to beat Gauthier.
Rees started the comeback less than four minute later when he raced away on a shorthanded breakaway and beat Taponen on the backhand, and Newhook wired a wrist shot through traffic five minutes after that to make it a one-goal game.
Tracey did the damage in the third period before Krebs found the empty net in the final minute to clinch the win.
Canada has a short turnaround before it is back on the ice at A3 Arena; it takes on Switzerland on Friday (9:30 a.m. ET/6:30 a.m. PT) as Group A play continues in Umeå.