Originally posted on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 12/28/11
Both Canada and USA gained some early attention on the first day of the World Junior Championships, routing their respective opponents Monday.

Canada went first, facing Finland early in the afternoon, and ending up with a 8-1 Canadian win. The Canadians got started early, with Mark Stone scoring his first goal of the night about two minutes into the first period. Just minutes later, Brendan Gallagher scored to make it 2-0.

"We got off to a great start, and the fan support was outstanding," Team Canada coach Don Hay said. "That two-goal lead early on was great for us."

But the Canadians didn't stop at two goals. By the end of the game, Mark Stone had a hat trick, and 11 Canadian players had at least one point. Jonathan Huberdeau led the pack at five points, scoring one goal and adding four assists. Goaltender Mark Visentin made 24 saves at one end, while the Canadians peppered 42 shots on Finnish goaltender Christopher Gibson, a 2011 second round draft pick of the LA Kings.

Gibson hadn't been expected to start the game, but when Sami Aittokallio went down with an injury during warm-ups, Gibson got the call, and had to weather the burden of the entire game himself without a back-up. Gibson, who plays with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens of the QMJHL, relished his start against Team Canada, but hoped for a better result, and looks to use the loss as a learning experience.

"Not everything went as well as I hoped it would go," said Gibson. "It's a great experience to play in Edmonton in a full building. Playing Team Canada is a great experience, and I have to build on this."

Canada's win did not come without loss, however. Devante Smith-Pelly left the game in the second period after blocking a shot with his foot. It was determined Tuesday that Smith-Pelly has a broken metatarsal (foot), and will be out for four to six weeks, ending his tournament play. It's a big blow for Team Canada, but they will press on without the Anaheim Ducks forward.

Later Monday afternoon, an even more one-sided thrashing occurred, with USA beating Denmark 11-3 in their opening game. USA quickly joined Canada in one statistic: hat tricks. Charlie Coyle, who recently left Boston University to sign with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, scored a hat trick for the Americans in the game. He scored the first goal of the contest just 24 seconds into the first period.

Despite the final score, the Americans didn't know what to expect when they faced Denmark. Going into the first intermission, USA had just a one-goal lead over Denmark at 3-2. "We didn't know what to expect with Denmark," Nick Bjugstad of USA said. "We didn't have any video on them and they came out hard in the first, but then the floodgates opened."

"We didn't want to take them lightly," Coyle said. "We knew it wasn't going to be that easy right off the bat. We kind of had a slow start. We knew we had to pick it up after the first period, and we did."

The Americans scored six goals in the second period, forcing Denmark to yank goaltender Sebastian Feuk from the crease in favor of Dennis Jensen after the first four USA goals of the period. By the end of three periods, ten different American players had at least two points in the game.

But Charlie Coyle, with his hat trick, was the undisputed player of the game. Captain Jason Zucker also had an impressive outing, scoring a goal and two assists (both assists coming on Coyle goals). "Charlie Coyle had a great game," Bjugstad said.

However, with all three Denmark goals coming on their power play, it's clear that there's still work to be done for Team USA, specifically on the penalty kill. As the Americans have had one of the best penalty kills in the tournament for the last few years, it's a troubling statistic, but improvement is not insurmountable.

As Team USA won their game by a larger margin, they take first place in Group B (which includes Canada) after the first day of competition. Wednesday features several key match-ups, including USA v. Finland, Canada v. Czech Republic, and Russia v. Slovakia. Russia won their first game of the tournament in a 3-0 shutout, but Slovakia boasts an impressive roster, headlined by offensive magician Tomas Jurco.
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