Canada is off to a running start at the 2017 IIHF World Hockey Championship in Cologne, Germany and Paris, France this week, going 3-0-0 to start the tournament while outscoring opponents 17-3 in the process.
A team consisting of 18 CHL graduates, five from the QMJHL, defends Canada’s back-to-back gold medals, their 25th and 26th respectively won in 2015 and 2016 as a pool of 15 other nations vie for international hockey supremacy.
Among those 18 grads are three that played in the Canadian Hockey League last season including CHL Player of the Year Mitch Marner (London Knights) of the Toronto Maple Leafs, high-speed winger Travis Konecny (Sarnia Sting) of the Philadelphia Flyers and well-rounded centreman Brayden Point (Moose Jaw Warriors) of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The young trio has formed what head coach Jon Cooper deems the “kid line,” and the three have drawn praise from the Tampa Bay bench boss.
“The kids are all right,” Cooper said after a 6-0 win over Belarus that saw a pair of goals from Point on Monday. “I can’t sit here and pinpoint one guy that has been the engine that’s driven that bus.
“All three of them have just meshed together. I know that any time our team has maybe had a little bit of a lull, that line has sparked us.”
Point has three goals in as many games while Marner has registered a goal and three assists and Konecny has collected six assists, helping Canada defeat the Czech Republic 4-1 on Friday and Slovenia 7-2 on Sunday prior to Monday’s win over Belarus.
“I’m just getting them the puck,” Konecny said of his passing prowess. “The passes are nothing special, to be honest. They’re playing really good and they’re finishing all the plays.”
Konecny comes off a 28-point (11-17–28) season as a rookie in Philadelphia while Marner recorded 61 points (19-42–61) in Toronto, setting a Maple Leafs franchise assists record for rookies in the process with 42 over 77 games. Point registered 40 points (18-22–40) in 68 games with Tampa Bay.
2013 Mastercard Memorial Cup hero Nathan MacKinnon (Halifax Mooseheads) sits tied with teammates Jeff Skinner (Kitchener Rangers) and defenceman Tyson Barrie (Kelowna Rockets) for the Canadian scoring lead with seven points (5-2–7), two behind tournament leader Artemi Panarin of Russia.
Canada’s seven game preliminary round schedule continues on Thursday against France before contests against Switzerland on Saturday, Norway on Monday and Finland on Tuesday.
CHL GRADUATES REPRESENTING CANADA;
Calvin Pickard (Seattle Thunderbirds/Colorado Avalanche)
Tyson Barrie (Kelowna Rockets/Colorado Avalanche)
Calvin de Haan (Oshawa Generals/New York Islanders)
Jason Demers (Victoriaville Tigres/Florida Panthers)
Josh Morrissey (Kelowna Rockets/Winnipeg Jets)
Marc-Edouard Vlasic (Quebec Remparts/San Jose Sharks)
Sean Couturier (Drummondville Voltigeurs/Philadelphia Flyers)
Matt Duchene (Brampton Battalion/Colorado Avalanche)
Claude Giroux (Gatineau Olympiques/Philadelphia Flyers)
Travis Konecny (Sarnia Sting/Philadelphia Flyers)*
Nathan MacKinnon (Halifax Mooseheads/Colorado Avalanche)
Mitch Marner (London Knights/Toronto Maple Leafs)*
Ryan O’Reilly (Erie Otters/Buffalo Sabres)
Brayden Point (Moose Jaw Warriors/Tampa Bay Lightning)*
Mark Scheifele (Barrie Colts/Winnipeg Jets)
Brayden Schenn (Brandon Wheat Kings/Philadelphia Flyers)
Wayne Simmonds (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds/Philadelphia Flyers)
Jeff Skinner (Kitchener Rangers/Carolina Hurricanes)
* – played in CHL during the 2015-16 season