Mark Stone and Jonathan Huberdeau had a night to remember on Boxing Day against Team Finland. The pair combined for 4 goals and 8 points in Canada’s first game of the 2012 World Junior Championship. Stone, a member of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, recorded a hat trick while Huberdeau, a member of the QMJHL’s St. John Sea Dogs, scored a goal and collected 4 assists in the 8-1 Canada win.
Canada came out strong in the first period, controlling play at both ends of the ice and scoring two early goals to lead 2-0 after one period of play. Mark Visentin started for Canada despite a terrible performance in Team Canada’s final pre tournament game against Sweden. Visentin did not have much work in the first period but was solid throughout and made 24 stops in the Canadian victory.
Finland was able to cut the lead to one goal early in the second period when Alexander RUUTTU sniped the puck over the shoulder of Visentin. Moments later Canada answered with a goal by Mark Stone, his second of the game. Canada then completely took over, adding two more following Stones goal to make it 5-1 after two periods of play. Early in the second period, Canadian forward, Devante Smith-Pelly left the game with what would be later diagnosed as a broken foot. He blocked a shot and limped off in some discomfort. He attempted to play another shift but left the ice immediately following the faceoff in the Canada zone. The broken foot will keep him out for the remainder of the tournament. Smith-Pelly played in an energy role for Canada early on in the game. His physical presence is certainly going to be missed.
Boone Jenner picked up the physical play with the absence of Smith-Pelly. He leveled Oli Maata in the first period and Maata was later diagnosed with a concussion. He will likely miss the rest of the tournament for Team Finland.
Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Strome, Brendan Gallagher, and Brett Connolly also scored for Canada but the night truly belonged to Jonathan Huberdeau and Mark Stone. Huberdeau only played in two games prior to this game against Finland. He has missed significant time due to a broken foot and did not participate in Canada’s training camp. Don Hay decided to keep Huberdeau on this team because he is a difference maker and can take over a hockey game at any given moment. Mark Stone has a knack for finding the back of the net. He had 5 goals in 3 pre tournament games for Canada. Stone does a phenomenal job finding the openings in front and has great hands for such a big power forward.
Canada will continue it’s 2012 World Juniors schedule against the Czech Republic on Wednesday night in Edmonton. Canada’s quest for gold is off to a good start but it is important for them to continue to play a full 60-minute game. There cannot be any let downs at this tournament because as we have seen in the past it can truly come back to bite you.
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