BRECLAV, Czech Republic – It wasn’t as smooth as its pre-tournament victories, but win No. 1 is in the books for Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team at the 2009 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka.
The Canadians scored twice on the power play and once more just four seconds after the end of a man advantage as they scored a tight 3-2 win over Sweden in the tournament opener for both on Tuesday.
Tyler Toffoli (Scarborough, Ont./Ottawa, OHL), Tyler Seguin (Brampton, Ont./Plymouth, OHL) and Brandon Gormley (Murray River, P.E.I./Moncton, QMJHL) all scored once and added an assist for Canada, while captain John McFarland (Richmond Hill, Ont./Sudbury, OHL) pitched in with two assists. It was another six points for Canada’s top line, which combined for 11 in the final pre-tournament win over Slovakia on Sunday.
After outscoring the United States and Slovakia by a combined 13-2 in its exhibition wins, Canada found itself trailing on Monday after Gabriel Landeskog opened the scoring for the Swedes just past the game’s six-minute mark.
But the Canadian offence found its rhythm in the second frame, as Gormley and Toffoli put the Canadians ahead for the first time in the game.
After Victor Berglind pulled the Swedes even on a power play in the first minute of the final period, Seguin cashed in on a Canadian man advantage, set up by McFarland and Toffoli as the all-Ontario threesome continued to run roughshod over international competition.
The game belonged to the goaltenders, as Canadian netminder Calvin Pickard (Winnipeg, Man./Seattle, WHL) and Swedish counterpart Jonas Gustafsson both made more than 30 saves. Canada held a 39-36 advantage in shots on goal.
The Canadians return to the ice in Breclav on Wednesday when they face Switzerland in the second of three preliminary round games (9:30 a.m. ET).
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)