Nugent-Hopkins leads Canada to 9-3 win over Germany at world juniors
UFA, Russia — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and four assists to pace Canada to a 9-3 win over Germany to open the 2013 world junior hockey championship Wednesday.
His linemates Mark Scheifele scored twice, including a short-handed goal, and Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and two assists.
That line consists of players who would have played in the NHL this season if not for the lockout.
Nugent-Hopkins has already played a year for the Edmonton Oilers. Scheifele is a Winnipeg Jets prospect and Huberdeau is Florida Panthers property.
“It’s something you hope for when you put a line together like that,” Canadian head coach Steve Spott said. “All three of those players have NHL abilities. Tonight they looked real good and that’s a positive for the hockey club.”
Spott put the trio together for the first skate of selection camp Dec. 11, even though Scheifele is a natural centre now playing right wing.
Canada’s other scorers were Ty Rattie, Ryan Strome, Jonathan Drouin and defencemen Xavier Ouellet and Tyler Wotherspoon.
Goaltender Malcolm Subban stopped 25 of 28 shots for the win. Spott indicated the Belleville Bulls netminder will be his starter for the tournament.
“Our plan is to run with Malcolm,” the coach said.
Canada (1-0) faces Slovakia on Friday, the United States on Sunday and concludes Pool B play New Year’s Eve against host Russia. The host country was to take on the Slovaks in Wednesday’s later Pool B game.
Finland opened Pool A action with a 5-1 victory over Latvia with Sweden and the Czech Republic meeting in the late game.
Leonhard Pfoderl countered with a goal and an assist for the Germans. Tobias Rieder plays for the Ontario Hockey League’s Kitchener Rangers, which Spott coaches. Rieder and Nickolas Latta also scored for Germany.
Elmar Trautmann made 37 saves on 46 shots in Germany’s net.
Germany earned promotion to the top-tier world junior tournament by winning the Division 1 tournament last year. Their goal is to stay in the main tournament for 2014 and not get relegated again, says Rieder.
“It was pretty special playing against Steve Spott, Canada’s coach,” the Oilers prospect said. “It was pretty nice to score against Team Canada.
“I think we played really well the first period, but the second and third period, you just saw that Team Canada is a better hockey team.”
Drouin of the Halifax Mooseheads was added to Canada’s tournament roster just prior to the game.
The 17-year-old had been left off it when lineups were submitted Christmas Day because of a charleyhorse he’d suffered in practice. Spott wanted to leave a spot open on the roster just in case a replacement player was needed.