MARNER GETS GAME-WINNER; CANADA TAKES WILD ONE OVER SWEDEN
By WENDY GRAVES
HELSINKI, Finland – If this was a pre-competition game, what exactly does the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship have in store for hockey fans?
Canada’s National Junior Team took a four-goal lead after 40 minutes, but needed a goal from Mitchell Marner (Thornhill, Ont./London, Ont.) with less than four minutes to go in the third period to beat Sweden on Wednesday.
The teams combined for seven goals in the third period to turn what looked to be a lopsided Canadian win upside-down.
Canada was called for six straight penalties over the final 20 minutes, twice setting up extended five-on-three opportunities for its opponents. Trailing 6-4 with five minutes left in regulation, Sweden capitalized on its advantage, with Adrian Kempe and Marcus Pettersson scoring 29 seconds apart to tie the game.
With Canada finally back to full strength, Rourke Chartier (Saskatoon, Sask./Kelowna, WHL) outworked two Swedish players behind their net to get the puck out front to Marner, who finished from the top of the crease.
The need for late-game heroics appeared unnecessary heading out of the second intermission.
After Jake Virtanen (Abbotsford, B.C./Vancouver, NHL) and Oskar Lindblom exchanged first period goals, Canada seemed to take control of the game.
Early in the second period Brendan Perlini (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont./Niagara, OHL) outraced a Swedish defender behind the net, sent a pass back to Mathew Barzal (Coquitlam, B.C./Seattle, WHL), who fed Dylan Strome (Mississauga, Ont./Erie, OHL) cross ice.
Canada then scored three goals in under four minutes to go up 5-1.
Mitchell Stephens (Peterborough, Ont./Saginaw, OHL) took advantage of two Swedish players colliding along the side boards to drive the puck far side and sweep it past goalie Linus Soderstrom’s outstretched leg. Three minutes later, Marner slid a pass in front of the crease to Virtanen at the side of the net for a power play goal. And only 24 seconds after that, Haydn Fleury’s (Carlyle, Sask./Red Deer, WHL) floater from the blue line fooled Soderstrom, chasing the Swedish netminder from the crease.
A 30-second span to start the third period gave an early indication of the chaotic conclusion to come. Pettersson, with a one-timer through the Canadian net – the first of three that would fly through twine – and Jacob Larsson made it 5-3, before Perlini replied for Canada.
Axel Holmstrom’s one-timer from Joel Eriksson Elk pulled Sweden to 6-4 and helped set the stage for a crazy final five minutes.
Mason McDonald (Halifax, N.S./Charlottetown, QMJHL) faced 32 shots for Canada.
Canada opens the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship against the United States on Saturday, Dec. 26 at 2 p.m. ET; catch all of the action on TSN and RDS.
Mason MacDonald on today’s game:
“It’s good for my confidence to get the win tonight, and I’m real excited to get it going. The game tonight was a pretty easy one for the first two periods, and in the third period it just ramped up and it was a pretty wild one, so I’m just happy we won.”
Mason MacDonald on being away from home for the holidays:
“We have a family right now, a group of 20 guys, and I’m really happy to be with them and spend the holidays with them.”
Head coach Dave Lowry:
“I really liked the first 40 minutes. For us, the third period was a really good learning opportunity. We’re going to have to understand that we’re going to have to continue to play a certain way to be able to close out games. Disciplined. We have to understand that what we play every day that are not penalties they are penalties over here and they’re going to be called. What you have to do is you can’t put yourself in those positions.”