Nine different skaters scored for Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team as it opened the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championship with a convincing 12-1 win over Sweden.
Canada scored four goals in every period en route to a 12-1 thumping over defending champions Sweden. It was the most lopsided loss at the U18 in Sweden’s history. Canada had beaten Sweden, 8-1, back in 2003.
It was Canada’s first game of the tournament and the second for Sweden, which drops to 1-1 after a win yesterday against Belarus. This was one of the most anticipated games of the round robin, but Canada took the excitement out early and Sweden had no response for their opponent’s firepower.
Thomas Milic stopped 28 of 29 shots in Canada’s goal to pick up a win in his Team Canada debut. In all, 16 skaters earned at least a point for Canada. Brandt Clarke had two goals and two assists, and Francesco Pinelli had one goal and two helpers.
Canada is right back at it tomorrow night, playing Latvia, while the Swedes get a two-day break before facing Switzerland on Thursday afternoon.
“We were fortunate enough to score on a lot of our chances, but our goalie also made some big saves at the right time for us as well,” said Canadian coach Dave Barr. “As coaches, we’re never happy, but we did a lot of things right tonight also.”
“It was men against boys today,” acknowledged Swedn’s coach, Anders Eriksen. “We had too many turnovers in the first period, and now we have to learn our lessons from the game. We have a day off and then play Switzerland, so we hope that we will come back stronger after this game.”
The Canadians got things going thanks to some dominating play in the offensive end, leading to the first power play. Captain Shane Wright snapped a shot from the left faceoff circle past Carl Lindbom at 5:19, a shot the goalie might well have stopped.
Five minutes later, Clarke made it 2-0 on a similar shot from the other faceoff dot. Canadian goalie Thomas Milic made his best save soon after. Olen Zellweger made a bad giveaway at his blue line allowing William Stromgren to go in alone, but Milic made a fine toe save to keep it 2-0.
Canada then scored two quick goals to extend its lead. First, 15-year-old Connor Bedard drove down the right side and got the puck to the front where Brett Harrison’s shot beat Lindbom. Just 75 seconds later, Pinelli made it 4-0, forcing Eriksen to make a goaltending change and giving Viggo Andren his first action of the tournament.
Nothing changed in the second. Wright got his second on the night just 30 seconds in thanks to a brave play by Brennan Othmann at the Sweden blue line. He took a thunderous hit from Vitor Sjoholm to get the puck free for Wright, who wired a shot past Andren to make it 5-0.
Three and a half minutes later, defenceman Nolan Allan scored on a seeing-eye shot from the point, and to minutes after that Ryan Winterton made it 7-0 off a terrible giveaway just inside the line.
Wright got the hat trick at 18:57 while short-handed to send the Canadians to the dressing room with a colossal lead.
Mason McTavish made it 9-0 when he worked his way around a defenceman and snapped a shot over Andren’s glove. Soon after, Clarke got his second, sweeping in a loose puck.
Sweden finally broke Milic’s shutout midway through the final period. Simon Forsmark stripped Bedard of the puck inside the Canadian blue line and wired a shot over the goalie’s blocker. Wyatt Johnston made it 11-1 when he was credited with a goal that went in off Arvid Sundin’s skate, further proof that Canada could do nothing wrong this night and the Swedes could no no right.
“It was a big win and everything was going right, but every game isn’t going to be like this,” offerd McTavish. “We’re going to dissect the things we didn’t do well and see some video. We have a lot of work to do yet.”
“We have to be honest. They’re a good team. They capitalized on our mistakes, and they just kept on going. We have to be better next game,” Fabian Lysell concluded.
“We were ahead 8-0 after two periods and we were in the coaches room at intermission discussing our turnovers and some of our decision-making. We were fortunate that we scored on a lot of our chances, and [goaltender Thomas Milic] made seven or eight big saves at the right time. Early on he made a couple saves when it was 2-0 at the time, and it could have been 2-1 or 2-2. He helped us keep the lead and we were able to add to that, but we’re never satisfied as coaches and we always want to play the perfect game. I thought we did some really good things in the first two periods and did a lot of good things offensively in the second, and in the third I thought we played a little safe, but we were still able to produce some offence.”
- Head coach Dave Barr (Toronto, Ont.) on his team’s performance in its first game
“We know we are not going to dominate every game, but I think we followed our systems very well tonight. We need to stick to our game plan, keep playing well and communicating with each other, and that will go a long way. We did that tonight, and we are going to have to continue doing those things game in and game out.”
- Pinelli on the positives from the team’s first win
“It was a big win for our team and a lot of things went right for us tonight, but not every game is going to go this way. We are going to dissect the stuff we didn’t do well and [head coach Dave Barr] will take us through some video, but we know there is a lot of work that still needs to be done in order for us to be successful.”
- McTavish on how the team can continue to improve