BRNO, Czech Republic — Scott Laughton scored twice as Canada opened at the under-18 world hockey championship Thursday with a 6-1 pounding of Denmark.
“Gold’s the only goal in mind and this is definitely a good start to the tournament,” said Laughton, who scored his first just 55 seconds into the game.
Canada hasn’t won gold at the event since 2008, the last year it won a medal of any kind.
Even though head coach Jesse Wallin of the Red Deer Rebels said Denmark is likely the weakest opponent Canada will face, Laughton added it was a good opener for a team that hasn’t played together much.
“Being together for a week, getting systems down and stuff like that, it was definitely a good challenge. They gave us a pretty good run,” he said. “I think they were a little more physical than we thought they were going to be.”
Gemel Smith, a Trochu native, and Prince Albert Raiders forward Mike Winther, Kerby Rychel and Red Deer Rebels defenceman and Team Canada captain Mathew Dumba also scored for the winners, who had two power-play goals in the second period — Rychel’s and Laughton’s second of the game.
The Canadian team had a dispute with the officials over Laughton’s goal, which the team said was incorrectly credited to Anthony Mantha. They sought to have the official record corrected.
Hockey Canada made the change on its website late in the day to give Laughton credit.
Oliver Bjorkstrand scored Denmark’s lone goal on a power play in the first period and Canada outshot Denmark 48-16 overall. Canada was assessed eight penalties and Denmark six.
“They did some good things but they were a little bit overmatched. We were bigger and stronger and more experienced and we took advantage of that,” said Wallin.
“We played well. Our motto here is we’re trying to get better every day … and I thought our game here was certainly better.”
As for the penalties, he said he didn’t see anything to worry about.
“There were a couple of penalties we took where we were in poor position but I didn’t think we were taking undisciplined penalties.”
He also liked the way they killed most of their penalties, although Denmark scored its lone power-play goal on a turnover.
“We tried to rush the puck up the ice and turned it over and gave up 2-on-1 … much like the rest of the game, it’s continuing to improve the details.”
He said he would like to see a little more action up front.
“The one area we’ve got to get better as well is just moving the puck, execution.”
The Canadian squad faces a much tougher opponent Saturday when they play Finland.
“I think it’s going to be a real good test for us. They’ve got a team that’s been together all season long,” said the coach.
“From what I understand, they’ve got a real good-sized team … they want to play a physical game so I think it will very much be a North American-style game. They’ll give us a good test.”