Canada breaks through with win over Belarus at U18 championships

Canada recorded its first win of the IIHF World U18 Championship on Thursday, hammering host Belarus 11-3.

BOBRUISK, Belarus — Canada recorded its first win of the IIHF World U18 Championship on Thursday, hammering host Belarus 11-3.

The result came after Canada opened the annual hockey tournament with a disappointing 3-1 loss to Switzerland on Tuesday. With a game against the Americans looming on Friday, the Canadians didn’t have much time to savour the victory.

“They were excited today then were relieved to get a win under our belt,” said head coach Guy Carbonneau. “We had some good performances from key players, players that we’ll definitely need to beat the U.S. tomorrow.”

John McFarland scored a hat trick and Ryan O’Connor had a pair of goals. Quinton Howden, Brett Connolly, Michael Bournival, Greg McKegg, Ryan Spooner and Jordan Weal all chipped in with singles. McKeeg added three assists in the preliminary round victory.

Calvin Pickard and Kent Simpson combined for 23 saves in the Canadian net.

Artem Levsha, Nikita Kardashev and Dmitri Zhevlochenko scored for Belarus.

After a slow start in the Switzerland game, Canada came flying out of the gate against Belarus to take a 3-0 lead just over five minutes into the first period.

“For us, it was important to get a good start, which we did,” said Carbonneau. “We came out really quick.”

Canada improved to 1-1-0-0 in Pool A while Belarus dropped to 0-2-0-0. In Pool B play in Minsk, Finland beat Slovakia 5-2 to move into a first-place tie with Russia at 2-0-0-0.

Sweden tops Pool A at 2-0-0-0 while Canada, the U.S. and Switzerland are all tied.

After practising Wednesday, the Canadians took in the U.S.-Swiss game to get an idea of what they’ll see Friday.

“I think everybody understands the magnitude of the game tomorrow,” said Carbonneau. “I think our players are going to be ready.”

The Canadians won the tournament in 2003 and 2008 and took the silver medal in 2005. They were fourth last year.

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