CANADA 6 – UNITED STATES 4
Despite having just 18 players in the lineup, Canada rallied behind a pair of goals from Raphel Lavoie (Halifax Mooseheads) to defeat the United States 6-4 to open the 2018 IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championship in Magnitogorsk, Russia.
Tied 4-4 midway through the third period, Lavoie struck for his second of the game before Akil Thomas (Niagara IceDogs) added an empty netter to start Canada off on the right foot. The win sees Canada start a new trend against the U.S. following a 10-3 battering in their last meeting in the bronze medal game of the 2016 event in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Canadian netminder Colten Ellis (Rimouski Oceanic) was a difference-maker, helping his club prevail despite being outshot 35-25. Rimouski teammate and rookie phenom Alexis Lafreniere, Liam Foudy (London Knights) and defenceman Kevin Bahl (Ottawa 67’s) also scored goals for Canada.
“I thought our goaltender was really good,” said Canada head coach Don Hay (Kamloops Blazers). “Colten made some big saves for us.”
Oliver Wahlstrom scored twice for the defending champion Americans while Jack Hughes had a goal and two assists. Joel Farabee added a goal while Johnathan Gruden pitched in with two assists.
Canada was without three players in Drummondville Voltigeurs teammates Joe Veleno and goaltender Olivier Rodrigue as well as Owen Sound Attack forward Aidan Dudas, all of whom weren’t able to make the opening game.
Hay, who led Canada to it’s most recent gold in Sochi, Russia back in 2013, described his roster as a “work in progress” to IIHF.com, adding that it may take a few days for all players to arrive.
Canada returns to action on Friday, taking on Belarus while the United States will go up against Switzerland.
OTHER WU18 SCORES FROM THURSDAY:
Finland 5 – Slovakia 2
Sweden 3 – Switzerland 1
SUI: Nico Gross (Oshawa Generals) – 1A
Russia 7 – France 1
RUS: Egor Zamula (Calgary Hitmen) – 1G
RUS: Dmitry Zavgorodniy (Rimouski Oceanic) – 1G
RUS: Nikita Okhotyuk (Ottawa 67’s) – 1A
For full coverage of the 2018 IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championship, visit IIHF.com.