International Ice Hockey Federation

Canada stays perfect

Canada stays perfect

Shutout for Rodrigue, Swiss suffer third loss

Published 22.04.2018 23:10 GMT+5 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Canada stays perfect
MAGNITOGORSK, RUSSIA - APRIL 22: Canada's Alexis Lafreniere #11 scores on Switzerland's Akira Schmid #29 during preliminary round action at the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. (Photo by Steve Kingsman/HHOF-IIHF Images)
After defeating Switzerland 5-0 for its third straight win on Sunday, Canada will battle Sweden on Tuesday for first place in Group A.

Magnitogorsk is a city founded on steel and iron, and it’s time to start finding out which of the two unbeaten teams has the strongest backbone.

Of facing Sweden, Joe Veleno said: "They’re a really good team. They’re really skilled. We know that from watching their games and from previous tournaments. We’re going to stick with our game plan, play hard, and find ways to limit their scoring chances."

In this victory, Allan McShane keyed the onslaught with a goal and an assist, and Alexis Lafreniere, Aidan Dudas, Chase Wouters and Raphael Lavoie also scored for Canada. Serron Noel chipped in two helpers. Dudas, a forward with the Owen Sound Attack, suited up for his first U18 game.

Against Switzerland, goalie Olivier Rodrigue of the Drummondville Voltigeurs enjoyed a shutout in his U18 debut. Akira Schmid, who faced a whopping 57 shots in the 8-5 Swiss loss to the Americans, got his second start. Shots here favored Canada 39-17.

"I think we did a good job back-checking and putting pressure in the corners when they had the puck," said Canadian defenceman Kevin Bahl. "We just had to move the puck up as soon as we got it, try to eliminate all the scoring chances."

The Swiss simply couldn't get anything going. Now they must beat Belarus, also winless, in Monday's early game to avoid the relegation round."

“We’re just going to reflect on this game and think of positive things," said Switzerland's Gianluca Barbei. "We’ll go tomorrow with fresh legs into the game and give 100 percent to win the game and go to the quarter-finals.”

At 4:44, Lafreniere gave Canada the early lead. Tylan Dellandrea forced a turnover in the Swiss end and Noel looped in the high slot before feeding the 16-year-old Rimouski Oceanic phenom for the tap-in. Lafreniere has scored in every game so far.

Canada showed a new level of structure and calmness in its game, outshooting the Swiss 13-4 in the first period. Even when the Swiss nearly pulled off a stretch pass, defenceman Jared McIsaac was there to bump Gianluca Barbei off the puck at centre ice. Meanwhile, Schmid tried his best in net, including stopping Veleno twice on a breakaway. Dellandrea hit the crossbar on a Canadian rush.

"It’s a hard game to play when you have the puck as much as we did," said Canadian coach Don Hay. "We didn’t get frustrated by not scoring. We stuck with it. I thought we did a lot of good things and we didn’t do anything to shoot ourselves in the foot. We set it up for a head-to-head with Sweden, which we like."

In the second period, an undisciplined hit from behind sent Swiss assistant captain Guillaume Anex to the box. Canada couldn't cash in, but when captain Ty Smith went off for holding, McShane set up Dudas with a sweet saucer pass on the rush for the 2-0 shorthanded goal at 6:24.

"He’s obviously a special player," said Cameron Hillis of McShane. "He’s got that knack for creating those good passing plays. It showed there with that goal with Dudas."

On the power play, McShane put Canada up 3-0 on another rush at 13:11, taking Liam Foudy's cross-ice pass and golfing a backhander past Schmid on the stick side. The goal ended Canada's drought with the man advantage. Switzerland is now the only team with no power-play markers.

At 17:46, Wouters put the game out of reach at 4-0, tipping Matthew Robertson's left point shot past Schmid with traffic in front.

Apart from a quick Swiss flurry to start the third, Canada rode its territorial domination to the end. Lavoie rounded out the scoring with his fourth goal, tying him for the tournament lead with Finland's Niklas Nordgren and the U.S.'s Oliver Wahlstrom, on the power play with 4:28 left.

Asked to comment on his goaltender choices, Hay said: "We wanted to get Olivier some game action to help get over the jet lag. He’ll get a good practice in tomorrow and we’ll decide who’s starting from there."

Switzerland has won only one of its 11 all-time U18 meetings with Canada, prevailing 3-1 on 13 April, 2010.

 

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