Team Canada's Jonathan Drouin solidifying elite status | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaTeam Canada's Jonathan Drouin solidifying elite status

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012 | 12:48 PM

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Team Canada forward Jonathan Drouin celebrates his goal with Canada defenceman Morgan Rielly, right, against Russia in Ufa on Monday. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press Team Canada forward Jonathan Drouin celebrates his goal with Canada defenceman Morgan Rielly, right, against Russia in Ufa on Monday. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press

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Whiz kid Jonathan Drouin played a big part in Canada beating Russia 4-1 on Monday and advancing straight in the semifinals of the 2013 World Under-20 Championship.

Halifax Mooseheads whiz kid Jonathan Drouin has cemented his standing among the top contenders to be selected first overall at the 2013 NHL entry draft.

Drouin was elevated to the top line of the Canadian junior team to play alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Mark Scheifele for the final round-robin game against the host Russians.

The move paid dividends. Drouin scored an early second-period goal to give his team a two-goal advantage in Canada's eventual 4-1 New Year's Eve victory

Drouin's Halifax teammate Nathan MacKinnon and Portland Winterhawks defenceman Seth Jones entered the 2012-13 season as co-favourites to be selected first overall at the NHL draft in June.

Drouin, however, has skated into the picture. His speed and goal-scoring ability are remarkable for a kid that began last season playing midget hockey with the Lac St-Louis AAA Lions.

He began 2010-11 in Lac St-Louis with an astonishing 22 goals and 53 points in 22 games. The start forced the Mooseheads to make some room at midseason for the then 16-year-old Drouin. A year later, he's with Canada at the IIHF World Under-20 Championship.

Canadian head coach Steve Spott has raved about the skill and hockey intellect of the five-foot-10, 185-pound Drouin since selection camp opened in Calgary three weeks ago. 

But during a Christmas Day practice, he collided with a teammate and suffered a charley horse. Hockey Canada didn't add him to the final roster until the next day after he had shown that he had recovered enough to suit up for the tournament opener the following day.

Spott's hunch to play him on the top line helped the Canadian juniors win their 17th in a row in NHL lockout-affected world under-20 tournaments.

Here are five matters to consider as the 2013 event moves into the playoff round in Ufa, Russia.

1. The return of Oshawa Generals centre Boone Jenner from his three game-suspension for his late hit in a Dec. 22 exhibition game was a big boost to the Canadian lineup. His inclusion added to the talent level and allowed Spott to put together three top lines that got it done in all three zones of the Ufa Arena.

Besides the addition of Drouin to the top line, the other top two combinations saw centre Ryan Strome with Jonathan Huberdeau and right wing Ty Rattie. Jenner played between left wing Phillip Danault and Brett Ritchie.

Jenner was a physical force, provided energy and strong penalty killing, and won nine of 16 draws.

His play certainly caught the attention of the coaching staff. Jenner was awarded the post-game black cape, the team's internal game MVP award.

2. The Canadian juniors rebounded from a dismal effort in man-advantage situations in their game against the United States on Sunday, when they went 0-for-6 and failed to score in two minutes and 36 seconds of 5-on-3 power-play time.

The power-play woes turned around against Russia, however. Another top prospect for the NHL draft, 17-year-old Valeri Nichushkin, took a five-minute major and was ejected from the game for his hit from behind on Canadian defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon midway through the first period.

Unlike the previous game, Canada was able to get some shots through from the point. As a result the power play produced goals from defenceman Dougie Hamilton and Scheifele during the major penalty and a 2-0 lead.

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3. Nugent-Hopkins continued his strong tournament. He assisted on each of three Canadian goals to increase his offensive production to three goals and 11 points in four games. He leads the tournament scoring race by four points over U.S. forward Alex Galchenyuk and has put together one of the best individual efforts for a tournament by a Canadian player.

Here are the most productive showings from Canadian juniors.

  • 18 points - Dale McCourt (1977), Brayden Schenn (2011).
  • 17 - Wayne Gretzky (1978), Eric Lindros (1991).
  • 16 - Cody Hodgson (2009).
  • 15 - John Anderson (1977), Jason Allison (1995), Marty Murray (1995), John Tavares (2009
4. Canada's win will give it two days off to prepare for the semifinals on Thursday. They will meet the Wednesday's quarter-final winner between the U.S. and Czech Republic.

In the other group, defending champion Sweden continued its winning ways with a 7-4 victory versus Finland. The loss knocked the Finns to the relegation round. Sweden, meanwhile, will meet the winner of the Switzerland-Russia quarter-final. Switzerland is coached by Sean Simpson of Brampton, Ont. He played for Canada in the 1980 world junior tournament.

5. Canada now has lost only two games in the round-robin portion of this tournament in the last decade. Sweden beat the Canadians 6-5 in overtime in 2011 and 4-3 in regulation time in 2008.

This also was the ninth time since 2003 Canada finished on top of its preliminary round group. The Canadian juniors have won five gold medals in the previous 10 tournaments and made it to the finals nine times in this stretch.

  • 2012 Won group (lost in semifinals)
  • 2011 2nd in group (lost in final)
  • 2010 Won group (lost in final)
  • 2009 Won group (won gold)
  • 2008 2nd in group (won gold)
  • 2007 Won group (won gold)
  • 2006 Won group (won gold)
  • 2005 Won group (won gold)
  • 2004 Won group (lost in final)
  • 2003 Won group (lost in final)

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