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Duchene scores hat trick in Canada's 6-0 win over Slovakia at U18 hockey @NHLdotcom

KAZAN, Russia - Canada scored early and often in a 6-0 rout of Slovakia on Friday at the IIHF world under-18 hockey championship.

Cody Hodgson of Markham, Ont., opened the scoring just 40 seconds into the preliminary round finale for both teams. Matthew Duchene of Haliburton, Ont., scored a hat trick and Jacob Lagace of Beloeil, Que., and Greg Nemisz of Courtice, Ont., added singles.

Canada will next play Finland in the quarter-finals on Sunday while Slovakia was sent to the relegation round. The U.S. will take on Germany in Sunday's other quarter-final.

Canada head coach Pat Quinn was impressed with his team's start.

"We were sharp for much of the first period, we got a couple of good stops when we needed it and our guys played with some real intensity," Quinn said. "We had a lot of power play time early on and our guys were pretty disciplined. That was a good sign.

"They kept playing well most of the night. Our defencemen probably played their best game."

Slovakia had a whopping eight minor penalties in the first period alone, with Duchene scoring the first of his three power-play goals at 10:41. He added another at 11:51 of the second period while Lagace added to the lead at 13:53.

Duchene completed the hat trick at 14:17 of the third period and Nemisz completed the scoring at 15:09.

"Today was an outstanding effort by our team," Duchene said. "All three lines played very well, and our goalie was solid."

Jake Allen of Fredericton made 23 saves for Canada's first shutout at the event since Jonathan Bernier made 22 saves in a scoreless tie with Finland in 2006.

Quinn said his team appears to be getting more comfortable with each game.

"This was a good effort," he said. "We still had some lapses but that's not unusual. These are young men and consistency is a problem for adults, never mind the young guys.

"But they were solid tonight for most of the night."

Canada improved to 3-1 with the victory, the lone loss a 4-2 decision to Russia on Wednesday. Canada outshot Slovakia 37-23.

"We had a good solid effort from top to bottom," Quinn said. "And that's the kind of thing we're going to have to have if we're going to come home with some medals."

Also Friday, Sweden blanked Switzerland 7-0. Sweden had already wrapped up first place in Group B and a berth in the semifinals. The U.S. defeated Finland 4-3 and Russia crushed Denmark 10-1.

Russia had already locked up first place in Group A and a spot in Monday's semifinals.

The medal games will be played Wednesday.

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