May 25th, 2024

Spence has two goals and assist, McKenna shines again, Canada thumps Czechia 6-0 at U18 worlds

By The Canadian Press on April 27, 2024.

VANTAA, Finland

Malcolm Spence had two goals and an assist as Canada thumped Czechia 6-0 in a penalty-filled affair Friday at the world men’s under-18 hockey championship.

Tij Iginla also had two goals and Carter George made 26 saves for the shutout

Gavin McKenna of the Medicine Hat Tigers had a goal and two assists and Carson Wetsch also scored as Canada improved to 2-0. Captain Porter Martone had three assists.

McKenna now has five points through two games (3G, 2A) but spoke of the team’s defensive effort afterward, namely the team’s ability to kill penalties with unfamiliar teammates.

“Lines are getting switched up with guys in and out of the penalty box,” McKenna said. “I think we’ve done a good job of sticking with it. Our penalty kill has done a great job bringing our team energy, which brings success and (Carter) George obviously played great by making some huge saves on the penalty kill.”

Canada was short-handed for 16 minutes 39 seconds in the game, including two penalties for too many men in the second period, after playing down a man for 12:05 in a 6-3 win over Sweden on Thursday.

Carter George stood tall in net for Canada, notching 26 saves for the goose-egg. The pressure eases a bit, of course, when your teammates are capable of scoring at any time.

“It’s obviously nice as a goaltender having the offensive weapons in front of you,” George said. “To put up six goals in back-to-back games is nice. As a goaltender it makes your job a lot easier, and for Spence to score five seconds in and get the first goal is huge for our team.

“I felt good tonight. The defence helped me out a lot, boxing guys out, and the forwards were good in the defensive zone blocking shots as well.”

Czech starting goaltender Jakub Milota allowed four goals on nine shots before being replaced by Bretislav Vystrcil, who made 22 saves on 24 shots in relief.

The teams combined for 103 penalty minutes, with three game misconducts handed out.

Czechia’s Marek Danicek was tossed for an illegal check to the head and Petr Sikora was ejected for butt-ending in the first period, while Wetsch received a game misconduct for checking from behind in the third.

Czechia (1-1) won the opening faceoff but immediately turned the puck over to Spence in its own zone, and the Canadian forward ripped a shot past Milota.

Spence went to the box for hooking 11 seconds after his goal, but Canada struck again when Iginla scored short-handed 1:51 into the game.

Iginla added a power-play goal at 7:18, and Wetsch scored 24 seconds later to chase Milota from the game.

After a goalless second, Spence increased Canada’s lead to 5-0 7:19 into the third period, and McKenna capped the scoring with a goal in the final minute.

Spence’s goal five seconds into the game set a record for the tournament and set the tone immediately.

“I didn’t know about the record until after the game, but I’m just happy we got the win,” he said. “That was a huge win for us. We’re a close group off the ice and we’re a really dedicated group, which we’ve shown before. I think the physical style of play is also more familiar to us and it plays to our strengths.”

— with files from the Medicine Hat News

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