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Marner impresses in Summer Showcase opener for Canada

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

Ever wondered how you leave a quality first impression at Canada's World Junior selection camp? Look no further than the template left by Mitch Marner.

The Leafs' 2015 first round selection put on a show in Canada's first Summer Showcase game. He recorded a lone assist in a 4-1 Canadian win with a performance chock full of highlight reel material. Marner figured prominently in both even-strength and special teams situations, giving fans and Canadian brass a glimpse into his high level skill and hockey sense.

Consider this penalty kill effort below.

"That's my game is controlling the puck and that's what I wanted to do coming into here," said Marner. "I felt like my teammates were giving it to me and we had such good chemistry out on the ice we were kind of confusing them. I think that's why we had so much success."

Sunday's game was the first real look at Marner in a competitive setting for Leafs fans since the club selected him fourth this past June 26. If he continues this level of play, there's an excellent chance all Canadians will get to know him come December when the World Junior tournament kicks off in Finland.

"That's the biggest thing is you want to contribute and be in that room come December," said Marner. "That's everyone's goal right now. You're all battling for spots."

This weekend presented the first time many of these players occupy the same dressing room. Plenty of these players have lined up against one another. The World Juniors present an opportunity to put rivalries aside and come together.

Red Wings blueline prospect Joe Hicketts was on the receiving end of a beautiful Marner feed to score for the Canadians. Hicketts had rave reviews of Marner's performance.

"He's a skilled player," said Hicketts. "I think we saw it on the PK, the power play, whenever he had the puck. Those type of players are nice to have on your team and he has been a great guy. Hopefully I can get to know him a little better."

If Hicketts doesn't get to know Marner well over the coming weeks and months, he surely will when they line up as division rivals in the NHL.

"He was wicked," said Canada goaltender and Flames prospect Mason McDonald. "I know he was flying out there. I heard his name on the scoresheet there at least once. He's a great player. He's got speed, he's got skill, he had a good game."

The view from the bench was just as favourable towards Marner. Canadian head coach Dave Lowry was impressed with Marner's showing.

"I thought he was outstanding," said Canada coach Dave Lowry. "There's a reason why Toronto took him when they drafted him when they did. He's an exceptional player and it was nice to see it live."

Canada will play the Czech Republic in their second of four Summer Showcase games on Tuesday night. Expect both Marner and fellow Leafs prospect Travis Dermott to play in at least a pair of games for the Canadians before the circuit is finished.

Highlight GIFs courtesy of Adam Herman

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