LONDON, Ont. - By any measure, but by the one most important - on the scoreboard - the debut of Canada's top junior hockey player with the London Knights was a success.
John Tavares had two goals and an assist in London's 7-3 victory over the Mississauga-St. Michael's Majors on Sunday afternoon before a near-capacity crowd of 9,070 at the John Labatt Centre.
Tavares was traded to the Knights by Oshawa last Thursday but didn't play when the Generals visited London on Friday night. His whirlwind week started Monday when he helped lead Team Canada to its fifth straight world junior championship title, a tournament in which he was named most valuable player.
But the youngster considered by many to be the favourite to go first overall in the 2009 NHL entry draft was in top form after one practice with his new team. Along with his scoring, he showed an array of clever passes and looked good with a variety of wingers as coach Dale Hunter gave his new asset plenty of ice time.
Tavares opened the Knights' scoring midway through the opening period. Swooping behind the Mississauga goal, the rangy centre pounced on a puck that had nestled against the bottom of the goal close to the post. With a deft high-speed move, he pulled the puck away from the iron and tucked it in.
His second goal came while the Knights were shorthanded in the second period. Winger Nazem Kadri fought off a Majors defenceman while powering into the offensive zone and got the puck over to Tavares, who buried it.
His assist was a thing of beauty. After a clever puck-to-skate-to-stick manoeuvre as he bore down on the Mississauga defence, Tavares got the puck to Michael Del Zotto - who also came over in the Oshawa trade - and he found the back of the net.
Jared Knight, Tucker Hunter, Vladimir Roth and Matt Clarke had the other goals for London.
Casey Cizikas, Jared Gomes and Rob Flick scored for Mississauga-St. Michael's.