May 29th, 2024

Canada off to U18 semis, McKenna ties Canadian record

By The Canadian Press on May 3, 2024.

Gavin McKenna tied the all-time scoring record by a Canadian with an assist in the team's 4-0 quarter-finals win over Latvia on Thursday morning. The Medicine Hat Tigers forward now has six goals and nine assists in five games. PHOTO COURTESY STEVEN ELLIS DAILYFACEOFF

VANTAA, Finland

Carter George made 23 saves for his second shutout of the tournament as Canada defeated Latvia 4-0 in quarterfinal action Thursday at the world men’s under-18 hockey championship.

Team captain Porter Martone scored and 16-year-old Medicine Hat Tiger Gavin McKenna tallied an assist.

McKenna sits second in tournament scoring with 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in five games. It was McKenna’s lowest offensive total of the tournament so far but he still tied Macklin Celebrini (2023) and Tyson Jost (2015) for most points at a single U18 men’s world championship by a Canadian.

Martone is third with 14 points (five goals, nine assists). He now has 20 career points at the tournament, one back of Connor Bedard’s all-time Canadian record.

“I have to give lots of credit to my linemates,” McKenna said. “I’ve been playing with Martone and (Caleb) Desnoyers, who have been unreal linemates, same with Roger McQueen who I started with.

“As the tournament has progressed, we’ve gotten better every game, have built a great friendship with Porter and all the guys. Having Martone close to his own record as well, it’s been super cool.”

Maxim Masse scored the winning goal on a power play 5:08 into the game.

Ryder Ritchie and Jett Luchanko, into an empty net, also scored for Canada. Tij Iginla and Harrison Brunicke added two assists apiece.

Goaltender Mikus Vecvanags made 34 saves for Latvia.

“I thought Latvia played well and so did we,” McKenna said. “They came out hard and we had a pretty good response to their pressure and George had a great game in net. When he makes big saves, it gives us motivation to keep playing well and it gives us momentum as well.”

Canada will face Sweden in Saturday’s semifinals for a second straight tournament. The Swedes advanced with a 2-1 win over Finland.

Sweden dumped Canada 7-2 last year at last year’s worlds in Switzerland. Canada then beat Slovakia 4-3 in overtime for bronze.

Canada beat Sweden 6-3 in its opening game at this year’s tournament.

The defending champion United States will face Slovakia in the other semifinal. The U.S. beat Switzerland 4-0 in the quarterfinals while Slovakia edged Czechia 3-2.

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