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McDavid shines, Canada keeps rolling in U-18 tourney

by Adam Kimelman /

Connor McDavid again showed hockey fans why the 2015 NHL Draft can't come soon enough.

The 16-year-old forward continued to cement his status as the best player at his age by scoring a hat trick to lead Canada to a 6-0 win against Sweden on Tuesday, the final day of the preliminary round at the 2013 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

Three top prospects for the 2013 NHL Draft -- Zach Nastasiuk, Morgan Klimchuk and Nick Ritchie -- also had a goal each, and Philippe Desrosiers stopped 28 shots as Canada finished atop Group B.

Canada and Sweden entered unbeaten in group play, but it didn't take long for Canada to assess its dominance. McDavid opened the scoring with a power-play goal 1:17 into the game when he redirected a Madison Bowey shot, then Nastasiuk, Klimchuk and Ritchie scored in the second.

"We just wanted to play our style of game, and getting the first goal I thought was a really positive thing for us," Canada coach Don Hay told reporters. "It gave us the ability to push pucks down the boards and be strong down low, and as the game went on we got stronger and stronger in that area."

McDavid added a pair of power-play goals in the third to cap the hat trick and give him a tournament-best 11 points in four games.

"It is pretty nice, obviously," McDavid told reporters of his offensive outburst Tuesday, "but it is all about the team here, not personal stats."

McDavid wasn't going to give himself too much credit, but Hay said he's been impressed by the rookie of the year in the Ontario Hockey League. McDavid totaled 66 points with the Erie Otters, second among all first-year OHL players.

"He's very solid," Hay said. "He makes good decisions with the puck. He's very unselfish and he plays both ends of the ice. He's done a great job. He's like our team, he's gotten better and better each game. We just want him to keep on working."

Canada's next work will come Thursday in the quarterfinals against the Czech Republic. Sweden, which finished second in Group B, will play the United States in a second quarterfinal.

The four-time champion United States lost for the second time in the preliminary round, falling 2-1 to Finland in a Group A game played at Bolshoy Ice Dome.

John Hayden scored 37 seconds into the game, but that was all the U.S. team could manage. Finland goalie Juuse Saros, NHL Central Scouting's top-rated European goaltender in its midterm rankings, stopped 49 of 50 shots.

Jonatan Tanus tied the game with 3:46 left in the second period. Then 7:12 into the third, Finland captain Aleksi Mustonen scored the game-winner. Artturi Lehkonen took a shot from the point that U.S. goalie Thatcher Demko stopped, but he couldn't control the rebound and Mustonen poked it in.

"We came out and gave ourselves plenty of chances to win this game," U.S. coach Don Granato told reporters. "This is a very tough tournament and every game holds importance. We would have liked to earn the second seed, but will prepare no differently for our upcoming matchup in the quarterfinals."

Demko, a prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft, stopped 17 of 19 shots as the United States out-shot Finland 50-19.

"We had a lot of quality chances," Hayden, No. 59 on Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters, told reporters. "We are going to watch the video of the game. We had a bunch of really good scoring chances. We could have easily scored five or six goals today."

In the other Group A game Tuesday, Pavel Buchnevich and Vladimir Tkachyov each had a goal and an assist as Russia finished unbeaten in preliminary-round play with a 5-2 win against the Czech Republic.

After a scoreless first period, Russia scored three times in the opening 10:04 of the second, including a shorthanded goal by Sergei Tolchinski.

David Pastrnak's goal early in the third cut the Russia lead to 3-2, but Tkachyov and Nikita Shatski scored 4:24 apart midway through the third for the final margin.

Russia will face Germany in a quarterfinal Thursday, and the Czech Republic will face Canada.

In the final game in Group B, Nicola Aeberhard stopped all 19 shots he faced to lead Switzerland to a 3-0 win against Germany.

Denis Malgin had a goal and an assist, and Phil Baltisberger had a goal and an assist for Switzerland, who will face Finland in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Germany will play Russia.


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