World Juniors: Canada 8 - Finland 1

Islanders prospect Ryan Strome scored a goal and three assists

Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 9:55 AM ET / News
The Canadian Press
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World Juniors: Canada 8 - Finland 1
EDMONTON - Mark Stone and Jonathan Huberdeau had instant chemistry playing on opposite wings during the Canadian junior hockey team's summer camp in August.

The two big forwards clicked again and dominated Canada's 8-1 win over Finland to open the world junior hockey championship Monday.

Stone, who plays for the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings, scored a hat trick. Huberdeau of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Saint John Sea Dogs had a five-point game with a goal and four assists.

The win came at a heavy cost for Canada, however, as forward Devante Smith-Pelly broke his left foot blocking a shot in the second period and has been ruled out for the remainder of the tournament.

Mark Stone #16 of the Team Canada celebrates his first period goal with teammates during the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship game against Team Finland at Rexall Place on December 26, 2011 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
The Anaheim Ducks forward is one of two NHL players on the team, and Canada cannot replace him on its roster. At this point the only situation in which a team could add another player would be in the case of a goaltender injury.

Huberdeau, meanwhile, will be a key player for Canada in its bid to re-claim the gold medal at the world junior championship. He was the third overall pick in the NHL draft this year by the Florida Panthers and was the Memorial Cup MVP last season.

He couldn't fully participate in the Canadian team's selection camp earlier this month because of a broken bone in his foot. Canada's exhibition game last week against Switzerland was Huberdeau's first since Nov. 7.

Canadian head coach Don Hay kept Huberdeau on the team because he's a difference-maker and also complements Stone so well.

Stone has hands that are anything but as the Ottawa Senators draft pick and Winnipeg native leads the WHL in scoring. Stone and Huberdeau are both over six foot one and difficult for the opposition to contain.

“Stone just continues to score goals for us and it's great to see Jonathan get some confidence and start the tournament off with a game like that,” Hay said.

“They're two different guys, but they do good work in their areas of the ice. Mark does a great job in front of the net. He's got great hands for a big guy. Jonathan really sees the ice well and can put pucks in the small areas.”

Buoyed by the roars of the 16,647 at Rexall Place, the host country put in a complete performance with solid goaltending, smart defensive plays and a hard-charging attack.

Brendan Gallagher of the Vancouver Giants, Niagara IceDogs defenceman Dougie Hamilton and forward Ryan Strome and Brett Connolly of the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning also scored for Canada.

Alexander Ruuttu, son of former NHL player Christian Ruuttu, scored Finland's lone goal early in the second period to temporarily pull his country within one goal.

Hay went with experience in net by giving Mark Visentin of the IceDogs the first start of the tournament. The Phoenix Coyotes prospect made 24 saves on 25 shots for the win.

Visentin was Canada's starting goaltender for the medal round of the 2011 tournament in Buffalo, N.Y. His big save on Teemu Pulkkinen with three minutes to go in the first period Monday preserved Canada's 2-0 lead heading into the second.

“I'm happy with my performance tonight,” said Visentin. “Obviously there's little things I'd like to fix up. I let (another) Phoenix draftee Ruuttu score. Good for him. He's a good guy, but I only let him get one and one only.”

After giving up four goals on 17 shots in Canada's final pre-tournament game against Sweden, there were questions whether Hay would go with Visentin or Scott Wedgewood of the Plymouth Whalers.

“It was always going to be Mark in my mind,” Hay said. “The experience of coming out in front of a crowd like this, he's been exposed to that last year in Buffalo. When you have a veteran goalie coming back you really have to give him the opportunity to lead off the tournament.”

Finland went with Chris Gibson of the QMJHL's Chicoutimi Sagueneens in goal. Canada pelted the Los Angeles Kings prospect with 42 shots as Finland's defence wilted under Canadian pressure.

Canada had beaten the Finns 3-1 in a pre-tournament game in Calgary last week.

“What can I say' Eight-one,” Finland coach Raimo Helminen said. “I couldn't prepare our team to play as much as I should. We were not ready, not physically, not mentally in this game at the beginning.”

Canada has Tuesday off before facing the Czech Republic on Wednesday and Denmark the following day. The hosts conclude Pool B play on Saturday versus the United States. The U.S. was to face Denmark in Monday's later game in Edmonton.

In Calgary, Sweden defeated Latvia 9-4 in a Pool A game with defending champion Russia set to face Switzerland at night.

The top team in each pool earns a bye to the semifinal round. The second and third teams cross over and meet in the quarter-finals.

Ryan Johansen played centre between Huberdeau and Stone during summer camp, but Johansen wasn't made available to play for Canada by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

So Hay inserted Strome between the two wingers and the New York Islanders prospect thrived there with a goal and three assists.

Stone's third goal at 4:05 of the third period prompted a cascade of hats from the stands.

“He's always in the right spot in the slot,” Huberdeau observed. “He scores a lot of goals. You could see that in exhibition games. He scored in every exhibition game since the beginning so it's easy to play with him.”

Freddie Hamilton, Quinton Howden and, before he left the game, Smith-Pelly combined to shut down Finland's top line of Mikael Granlund, his brother Marcus and Pulkkinen.

Dougie Hamilton and defensive partner Brandon Gormley of the Moncton Wildcats logged a lot of minutes on Canada's back end in the first game.




1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50


J. Tavares 77 34 43 -2 77
R. Strome 76 16 32 20 48
K. Okposo 55 16 31 -11 47
F. Nielsen 76 14 28 8 42
B. Nelson 77 19 22 7 41
A. Lee 71 23 16 10 39
J. Bailey 65 15 23 3 38
J. Boychuk 67 8 25 9 33
N. Leddy 73 10 21 14 31
T. Hamonic 67 5 26 16 31
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
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