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Canada opens 2-0 lead on Russia in gold medal game

by Mike G. Morreale
The Canadian National Junior Team continued its march toward a sixth gold medal in seven years in the opening 20 minutes of the gold medal game in the World Junior Championship on Wednesday.

Canada leads Russia, 2-0, in the seventh gold-medal clash between the clubs since the playoff format was adopted for the tournament in 1996.

Carter Ashton connected for his first of the tournament -- becoming the 15th player to at least have one goal -- with just 13.5 seconds remaining in period off great work behind the Russian net. After fighting off a check by Denis Golubev, Ashton skated to the front of net and received a pass from Louis Leblanc before finishing it off with a splendid sharp-angle shot from low in the right circle that entered the top far corner on Russian goalie Dmitri Shikin.

Russia committed the first mistake of the game when Georgi Berdyukov was whistled for hooking at the 4:20 mark of the first period. Canada, which entered the game with the top power-play in the tournament with a 43.48 proficiency rate, needed just 30 seconds to grab the early lead.

Brayden Schenn gathered a pass from Calvin de Haan in the right circle and quickly fired a cross-ice pass to captain Ryan Ellis in the opposite circle. Ellis collected and fired into a wide-open cage as Shikin never slid over to cover that portion of the cage.

Dmitri Orlov also pulled the Russians even when he stickhandled his way into the Canadian end and uncorked a slap shot that Mark Visentin corralled. Cody Eakin broke into the Russian end on a neutral zone turnover 11:40 into the first but was bothered just enough by the stick of defenseman Yuri Urychev.

Yevgeni Kuznetsov had an apparent breakaway attempt denied by a diving Tyson Barrie with 5:10 remaining in the period as the Canadian defense did all they could to deny the speedy Russian forwards an easy access to the goal cage.

Vinsentin turned aside eight shots in the opening period.

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