Canada Stops American Powerhouse to Start U18’s

Canada Stops American Powerhouse to Start U18’s

Steven Ellis19 Apr 2018Steven Ellis»
 

Canada has started the 2018 World Under-18 Hockey Championships with a big 6-4 victory over the United States, a huge victory given how dominant the Americans have been the past few years.

 
 
 
 

Canada has started the 2018 World Under-18 Hockey Championships with a big 6-4 victory over the United States, a huge victory given how dominant the Americans have been the past few years.

The Americans were, once again, the pre-tournament favourites, and they didn't waste much time scoring the first goal of the game. At 4:56, 2019 draft prospect Cole Caufield got the puck behind the goal line to Jake Wise, who would quickly send the puck out to Joel Farabee. Farabee scored from a close angle in front, beating Colten Ellis to make it 1-0 early in the battle.

Canada, however, found the back of the net before the clock hit zero in the opening frame to tie it up. Alexis Lafreniere, one of the top prospects for the strong 2020 draft class, made it 1-1 with under five minutes to go after taking a feed from Ty Dellandrea through traffic before making a quick deke past two defenders, sending a quick shot past Drew DeRidder to make it 1-1.

As the game wore on, it was clear the two teams were playing at an equal pace, despite USA showing more chemistry early. At 24:14 on the power play, Jack Hughes would set up Oliver Wahlstrom all alone at the high right circle. Wahlstorm, a Harvard commit, would send a quick wrister past Ellis for the go-ahead goal, giving USA their second advantage of the night. But it wouldn't last. Two minutes later, Liam Foudy's shot from along the boards to beat DeRidder cleanly past his glove, bringing the game back to a standstill at 26:11.

For the first time since 2013, Canada found themselves leading the Americans at the U18 World's. With 9:46 left in the second, Kevin Bahl gave Canada their first lead of the tournament after walking in all alone following a feed from Cameron Hillis, sending one past DeRidder after controlling the puck unchallenged to make it 3-2. 

Canada wasn't done. With the second period almost complete, Raphael Lavoie made it 4-2 after re-directing a shot from Allan McShane, taking advantage of the Americans scrambling in their own zone to use the extra space to drive to the net to put in Canada's fourth goal of the game. It was Canada's first two-goal lead in Under-18 World Hockey Championship action ever, which came despite many of Canada's top players not suiting up for the squad until Friday against Belarus.

For the second time on Thursday, Wahlstrom found the back of the net on the power play. The goal would come after Hughes once again found Wahlstrom alone, with the dynamic scorer sending a slap shot through a small opening in Ellis' save attempt to make it 4-3.

The game continued to stay crazy. At 9:35, Hughes, the projected top prospect for 2019, scored a beautiful power play goal after deking through multiple defenders before sliding the puck past Ellis, grabbing his third point of the night to make it 4-4. But it wouldn't last, as under two minutes later, Foudy won a foot race to get Lavoie the puck in front, with Lovie once again tipping in a shot to score for Canada, this time giving them their lead back. Akil Thomas would score an empty netter with 19 seconds left in the game, giving Canada the 6-4 victory to kick off the 2018 World Under-18 Hockey Championships.

Russia 7, France 1

Unsurprisingly, the Russians easily tackled France to kick off the U18's on home ice, with seven different goal scorers finding a way to beat France's goaltenders. Ruslan Iskhakov, Dimitri Zavgorodni, Kirill Marchenko, Semyon Kizmov, Vladislav Mikhailov, Ivan Morozov and Yegor Zamula all scored, while Valentin Duquenne was in net for France for the whole game for a 49-save effort. Pierrick Dube, a rookie with the QMJHL's Quebec Ramparts, scored the first goal for France in the top division ever late in the game, 

Sweden 3, Switzerland 1

Jonathan Berggren put on a show for the Swedes on the opening day of U18 action in Russia, scoring a hat-trick to lead Sweden to a 3-1 victory over Switzerland. He scored his three goals in just 15 minutes of game time, with his goal at the exact halfway point of the game proving to be the game-winner. Kyen Sopa had the lone goal for the Swiss, while Olof Lindblom made 21 stops for the victory.

Finland 5, Slovakia 2

They didn't start off great, but Finland finished their first game hot with a 5-2 victory over Slovakia thanks to a strong second-half. Anton Lundell, a 2019 NHL Draft prospect, was the man of the hour, recording four points in his first U18 contest. The Finns had a 2-0 lead at the halfway point of the game, but goals from Oliver Okuliar and Maxim Cajkovic put the Slovaks back in the game. Lundell's goal at 39:08, however, proved to be the game winner, giving Finland their first victory of the tournament. The Finns came in as one of the tournament favourites, with the team coming off of a silver medal 12 months ago.

Follow me on Twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

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