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Calgarians contribute to Canadian bronze medal at World U-18 Hockey Championship

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According to the Hockey Canada website on Sunday, Canada defeated Sweden 3-1 in the bronze medal game of the 2014 World Men's Under-18 Hockey Championship in Lappeenranta, Finland. Jake Virtanen of the Calgary Hitmen recorded an assist on Canada's opening goal with 2:58 remaining in the first period.

Virtanen's assist came on a Team Canada goal scored by Brendan Perlini of the Niagara IceDogs. Lawson Crouse of the Kingston Frontenacs and Travis Konecny of the Ottawa 67's also scored for Team Canada. Konecny had a multi-point game as he also added an assist.

Virtanen had an excellent tournament for Canada. The native of Abbotsford, British Columbia had three goals and three assists for six points. His six points led team Canada in scoring. A left winger who had 45 goals and 26 assists for 71 points with the Hitmen in Western Hockey League regular season action this season, is expected to be selected in the first round of the 2014 National Hockey League Entry Draft.

Another Calgary Hitmen player who had an excellent tournament was defenseman Travis Sanheim. The native of Elkhorn, Manitoba also had six points and led Canada with six assists, six points and a team high +5.

Meanwhile, Calgary native Ben Thomas of the Calgary Hitmen might have only had one assist in the tournament, but played stingy defense in limiting a prolific Swedish offensive powerhouse to only scoring a single goal in Sunday's medal game. Also High River, Alberta's Conner Bleackley of the Red Deer Rebels had a goal and assist in the tournament. Bleackley's goal came on April 19 in Canada's 5-2 win over Germany, the same game where Thomas had his assist. High River is 40 minutes south of Calgary.

Even though team Canada came away with a bronze medal, the expectations by the Canadian public when it comes to international hockey tournaments are high. The bottom line is that Canada was unable to defend their gold medal from the 2013 World Under-18 Hockey Championship in Sochi, Russia. Canada could only play for bronze this time after losing 4-3 to the Czech Republic in the semifinal on Saturday.

In Sunday's gold medal game, the United States defeated the Czech Republic 5-2. The United States have won the tournament five of the last six years.

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