Alexis Lafreniere (Rimouski Oceanic) scored 2:27 into overtime to lift Canada over Sweden by a score of 3-2 in a preliminary round finale on Tuesday in Magnitogorsk, Russia.
Leading 2-1, Swedish defenceman Adam Boqvist scored on the power play with 1:34 remaining in the third period to force overtime before Lafreniere connected with Ryan Merkley (Guelph Storm) and Joe Veleno (Drummondville Voltigeurs) in the extra frame.
“It was a really nice pass by [Ryan Merkley]. I was alone with the goalie – I made a little move and shot. He made the save and I took my rebound and scored. It was special. When I saw the puck go in, I was really happy we have [a] perfect start to the tournament. It was really nice.”
Raphael Lavoie (Halifax Mooseheads) and Chase Wouters (Saskatoon Blades) also scored for Canada as they finish the round robin with a perfect 4-0 record.
“The team is growing and we’re getting better each game,” affirmed head coach Don Hay (Kamloops Blazers). “We’re competing hard. We took advantage of a powerplay opportunity at a crucial time of the game.”
Canada outshot Sweden 40-31 before a crowd of 7,273 as goaltender Olivier Rodrigue turned aside 29 shots.
Canada hands Sweden its first loss and sets up a quarter-final date with the Czech Republic (1-3) on Thursday.
Lafreniere and Serron Noel (Oshawa Generals) finished atop Canada’s scoring leaders in preliminary play with six points each.
OTHER WU18 SCORES FROM TUESDAY:
Finland 4 (4-0-0-0) – Czech Republic 2 (1-0-0-3)
CZE: Libor Zabransky (Kelowna Rockets) – 1A
United States 8 (2-0-0-2) – Belarus 0 (1-0-0-3)
Russia 6 (2-1-0-1) – Slovakia 5 (2-0-1-1)
RUS: Nikita Okhotyuk (Ottawa 67’s) – 1A
For full coverage of the 2018 IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championship, visit IIHF.com.