Sam Reinhart (2014, first round) scored a pair of goals Tuesday including the game-winner as Canada remained perfect (3-0-0-0, 9 pts.) at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship with a 4-1 triumph over Finland (0-0-1-2, 1 pt.).
Reinhart’s second consecutive two-point effort earned him Canada’s Player of the Game honor.
Just as they have since being formed at Canada’s first training camp practice, the high-skill line of Reinhart, Max Domi (ARI) and Anthony Duclair (NYR) stood out from the pack all game long with crisp passing and consistent offensive pressure. And just as he has since being returned to the junior ranks following a nine-game NHL stint, Reinhart’s impact went beyond the offensive zone with keen defensive awareness and a smart stick on the penalty kill.
Reinhart connected for Canada’s first goal of the night at 5:32 of the opening period while on a power play when he dished the puck back to the point and went straight to the net to cash the rebound of a Shea Theodore (ANA) shot.
Reinhart’s second tally at 13:34 of the second period was the culmination of an excellent shift from start to finish that served as a snapshot of Reinhart’s three-zone effectiveness.
The first key play saw the crafty centerman provide own-zone support and emerge from a corner scrum to send a long, accurate lead pass to Max Domi that wasn’t converted. The second key play had a much different result, as Reinhart got on his horse in transition and shot down the center lane to deflect a Duclair pass up over the right shoulder of Juuse Saros (NSH) to give Canada the 2-0 lead.
One of six returnees from last year’s World Junior squad, Reinhart has been everything the Canadian coaching staff has hoped for through three games. In addition to notching two goals and five points, the 19-year-old standout has logged a plus-six rating and seven shots on goal with a 58 percent success rate on face-offs.
The Finns proved a worthy opponent with their pressing style, but Canada capitalized twice in the third period with goals from Duclair and Curtis Lazar (OTT) to close out the victory.
Canada now sets their focus on a New Year’s Eve match with the United States. First place in Group A is on the line, along with preferential seeding in Friday's cross-over quarter-final games.
Game time on Wednesday is 4 p.m. (NHL Network/TSN).
|Hudson Fasching |
Sabres prospects Hudson Fasching and J.T. Compher (2013, second round) each produced two shots on goal as the United States (2-1-0-0, 8 pts.) continued preliminary round action with a 3-0 shutout of Slovakia (1-0-0-2, 3 pts).
Fasching’s powerful north-south game continued to blend well with University of Michigan centerman Dylan Larkin (DET), as their line with Sonny Milano (CBJ) again served as USA’s primary engine. While Larkin and Milano each scored for the second straight contest, Fasching did his part crashing the net and dominating board play with his bulky frame and puck protection skills.
With the U.S. swarming early in the third period, Fasching controlled a puck behind the net and made a nice centering feed for Milano before Larkin scooped up a rebound and scored from a sharp angle. Fasching was not credited with an assist on the play, but his hard work beneath the goal line certainly contributed to the outcome as the Americans took a 2-0 lead.
Minutes later, Fasching filled a lane on a two-on-one rush and accepted a pass in stride from Will Butcher (COL), only to see Slovakian goaltender Denis Godla thwart him with the glove.
Fasching, a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, has recorded two points (1+1) thus far in the tournament while sharing the team lead with a plus-five rating.
With Fasching grinding away, Compher proved just as valuable in his role as USA’s fourth centerman on a line with Anthony Louis (CHI) and John Hayden (CHI). Throughout the game, the trio provided a tenacious forechecking presence along with speed and self-sacrifice on the penalty kill. The versatile Compher has collected eight shots on goal while winning 16 of 32 faceoffs through three preliminary round tilts.
Hayden capped the scoring the game’s final minute while Thatcher Demko (VAN) made 17 saves in the shutout.
The undefeated Americans will face what should be their toughest test to date Wednesday as they look to claim first place in Group A against rival Canada.
Victor Olofsson (2014, seventh round) saw limited minutes as Sweden (3-0-0-0, 9 pts.) stayed atop the Group B standings with 3-2 win over Russia (1-1-0-1, 5 pts.).
While his offensive moments were few, Olofsson made a notable defensive play with his stick with the game tied 1-1 late in the middle frame. After three games, the MODO product has two shots on goal and a plus-one rating.
Sweden closes the preliminary round Wednesday when they take on Switzerland (1-0-0-1, 3 pts).
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s web site - sabresprospects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @sabresprospects for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.