Canada won again at the under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial hockey tournament, thanks in large part to its special teams.
The Canadian squad scored three power-play goals and added another while short handed en route to a 7-5 victory over Sweden on Tuesday. Canada improved to 2-0 at the tournament after opening with a 4-1 win over Switzerland on Monday.
“We had them both going well,” said Canadian team coach Todd Gill. “Our penalty kill should be darn good because we used it enough.
“It’s frustrating for the kids because they’re not doing that much wrong. We took some penalties we have to control and get away from and we’re getting better. I thought we did a great job on our penalty kill and our power play got us going and you need those running at a high percentage to win this tournament.”
Canada has dominated this event, having won it the last four years and 16 times overall since 1991.
Max Domi, the son of former NHL tough guy Tie Domi, led the way for Canada with two goals and two assists. Nathan MacKinnon, Morgan Klimchuk, Anthony Duclair, Curtis Lazar and Sam Reinhart had the other goals.
“We had to execute and that’s what we did,” Domi said of the Canadian power play. “We moved the puck quick on the power play and our penalty kill was outstanding as well.
“They worked their tail off.”
Canada started quickly against Sweden, leading 2-0 on goals by MacKinnon and Klimchuk less than two minutes after the opening faceoff. The Swedes, who outshot the Canadians 41-38, rallied to make it 2-2 before Duclair countered on the power play at 16:31.
Canada surged into a 5-2 lead early in the second on power-play goals by Lazar and Domi before the Swedes scored at 17:33 to make it a two-goal game.
Reinhart’s short-handed goal at 1:19 of the third proved to be a big one for Canada as Sweden rallied to make it 6-5 afterwards before Domi’s goal with eight seconds remaining cemented the win for the Canadians.
“The short-handed goal was huge and certainly looks big now because of what they did,” said Gill, who coaches the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. “Reinhart does a great job, he’s just so smart.
“He’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever coached.”
Canada doesn’t have time to relish the victory. The squad returns to the ice Wednesday against Slovakia, which lost 7-3 to Sweden in its tournament opener Monday, before having a day off Thursday.
“Slovakia is a different team than Sweden,” Gill said. “Their game against Sweden was tough to evaluate because Slovakia plays a patient game and sits back while Sweden is so good and so fast and passes the puck so well that if you give them time they’re going to pick you apart.
“But we treat every team here like they’re the best in this tournament. We can’t let up on anybody, we can’t take shortcuts.”
Canada is in Group A with the Czech Republic, Finland and Slovakia. Russia, the U.S., Sweden and Switzerland make up Group B.
The top two teams in each division advance to the semi-final round Friday. The two winners will square off in the tournament final Saturday.