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Virtanen leads Canada to 3-1 win at World U-18 Hockey Championship

Jake Virtanen
Jake Virtanen
Derek Leung, Getty Images

According to the Hockey Canada website, Jake Virtanen of the Calgary Hitmen scored twice on Thursday as Canada defeated Sweden 3-1 at the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation U18 World Championship in Lappeenranta and Imatra, Finland.

The first goal came even strength in the first period from Roland McKeown of the Kingston Frontenacs, and the second goal turned out to be the game winning goal. It was an unassisted power play goal at 1:03 of the second period.

According to Hockey Canada media relations co-ordinator Keegan Goodrich in a press release on Wednesday, Calgary natives Brayden Point of the Moose Jaw Warriors and Ben Thomas of the Calgary Hitmen have also been named to the team, along with Calgary Hitmen defenseman Travis Sanheim. The junior hockey tournament goes through April 27.

In 72 games this season, Point led the Warriors with 36 goals, 55 assists and 91 points. However, an area of concern could be his defensive zone coverage, where he was a poor -27. Thomas had seven goals, 24 assists and 31 points, and was a solid +11. Both Point and Thomas also played in the Canadian Hockey League Bank of Montreal Top Prospects Game on January 15 at Calgary's Scotiabank Saddledome.

Virtanen will be counted on over the next ten days for his offensive prowess. He led the Hitmen with 45 goals this season and added 26 assists for 71 points.

Meanwhile forward Conner Bleackley of the Red Deer Rebels is also on the squad. Bleackley hails from High River, Alberta, about 40 minutes south of Calgary. Bleackley led the Rebels with 29 goals and 68 points.

Sanheim, from Elkhorn, Manitoba had five goals and 25 assists for 29 points this season. Point, Bleackley, Sanheim, Thomas and Virtanen are all eligible for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

Canada's next game will be Saturday against Germany. TSN will have Canada's round robin game against Russia on April 22. However before their televised game against the hockey superpower, Canada will play Slovakia on Easter Sunday. Canada is the defending champion of the event. Last year in Sochi, Russia, Canada defeated the United States 3-2 in the gold medal game.

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