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Canada, USA & Russia Get Off To Dominating Starts

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers

The three medalists from a year ago got off to dominating starts in their quest to repeat as medal winners at the World Junior Championships Monday in Edmonton.

Canada (silver last year) took home a 8-1 victory over Finland while the United States (bronze) walked away with a 11-3 win over Denmark. In the night cap it was Russia (gold) sliding by Switzerland 3-0.

Playing in the first game of the tournament, Panthers prospect Jonathan Huberdeau figured in five of the Canadian's eight goals. In the second game at Rexall Place, the Americans used a six goal second period, including two by Kyle Rau and one by Nick Bjustad to earn the victory. In Calgary in the late game, Russia received 40 saves from Andrei Vasilevski as they shut out the Swiss.


For missing time due to a broken ankle, Jonathan Huberdeau didn't look like he was rusty. The Panthers top pick from this past summer's draft (third overall), was a factor all night, netting a goal and adding four helpers (three coming as the first assist variety).

Before a raucous crowd in Edmonton, Canada controlled play from the get go with hits and goals alike and it was the Panthers top pick that got it started with some pretty passing. He set up linemate Mark Stone for the game's first goal just 2:14 into the contest.

Canada would pot another goal off the stick of Brendan Gallagher to give the host country a 2-0 lead after one period of play.

"I think it was great," said Huberdeau to TSN following the game. "We were really excited to start the tournament and I think we wanted to start it the right way. The fans were there for us and were a great support. We had a great start."

After Finland got on the board just 1:21 into the second, Canada would bounce back and it would be Huberdeau setting up Stone once again from a pass from behind the net 1:41 later. The Cats prospect would up the lead to three as he sniped a power play shot short side midway through the second. Dougie Hamilton scored the second power play goal of the game three and a half minutes later for a 5-1 lead after two.

"(Mark) Stone just continues to score goals for us and it's great to see Jonathan get some confidence and start the tournament off with a game like that," Canada head coach Don Hay said.

Tampa's Brett Connolly scored 52 seconds into the third and then Huberdeau collected assists on the game's final two goals as Stone cashed in on his original shot for the hat trick and then Ryan Strome closed it out with a little less than 13 minutes to play.

"In the summer we played together with Ryan Johanson," said Huberdeau following the game. "We had a great line there, great chemistry and now we just keep going and this line started early so it was great for us."

While he didn't figure into Canada's scoring, Panthers prospect Quinton Howden was instrumental as part of a shut down line in keeping Finland's top line off the scoreboard. Joonas Donskoi on the other hand finished with two shots on net and a minus-3 in the game.


It seems that it took a period for the United States to either wake up or figure out that they should be dominating their opponents Monday night.

But when they did, they did it in a blitz as they scored eight goals in the final forty minutes on their way to a 11-3 victory over Denmark.

Despite scoring the game's first goal 24 seconds in off a Charlie Coyle shot, the Americans found themselves in a dogfight in the opening period. The reason? Penalties as Denmark scored twice on the power play, both coming off the stick of Mathias Bau-Hansen. The United States however held a one-goal lead as Jason Zucker and Jarred Tinordi had given them a 3-1 lead just 8:26 into the game.

It must have been a heck of an intermission speech by Dean Blais as the United States came out flying and the Cats first-round pick in the 2010 draft (19th overall) who netted the eventual game-winner 1:25 into the second. His shot from the slot knuckled in past S Feuk for a 4-2 lead. After Coyle scored on the power play to make it 5-2, it was another Cats prospect that extended the lead as 2011 third round pick (91st overall) Kyle Rau scored off a nice shot. Bill Arnold then made it a 7-2 game with the American's third goal in a span of 3:09. JT Miller scored on another power play goal midway through the second and then Rau recorded his second of the game off another power play chance with 3:59 remaining in the second.

The Americans will have to work on their penalty kill unit before their next game against Finland on Wednesday as Denmark recorded their third power play goal of the game to cut the lead to 9-3 4:20 into the third. With that said, and the game still out of hand, Coyle finished off a nice opening game as he netted his third of the match and then Stephen Johns closed out the scoring with 4:04 left on the clock.

Rau led the way for Panthers prospects finishing with the two goals and was a plus-two on two shots while Bjugstad collected the game-winner and was a plus-three on two shots. Forward Connor Brickley was a thorn in Denmark's side when he was on the ice, picking up several big hits.

In the closest game of the first day of the tournament, Russia got off to a great start in defending their gold medal as they held off a pesky Swizterland team by a score of 3-0.

Known more for their suffocating defense on the world stage, Switzerland brought the pace to the talented Russians as the posted 40 shots on Andrei Vasilevski. Unfortunately for the Swiss and fortunately for the Russians, Vasilevski was a brick wall as he turned aside every single shot.

Russia got on the board 8:22 into the first as Alexander Khokhlachev beat Tim Wolf for an unassisted tally.

Holding a 1-0 lead, Russia found some breathing room as they recorded two goals in the second stanza. First it was N Gusev who did a fantastic one-on-one job against the Swiss as he sniped a goal 5:37 into the frame. Panthers prospect Yaroslav Kosov recorded the first assist on the play. Then with 4:56 left on the clock, it was pretty passing from Nikita Gusev to Nikita Kucherov to a wide open Mikhail Grigorenko that set up the forward for an easy goal on the rush.

With a 3-0 lead and a period left to play, it was up to Vasilevski to keep the Russians on top and that he did as he made 12 saves in the final period to earn the best player of the game for his team.

Kosov finished with the assist on three shots and was a plus-2 on the night.
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