Canada’s Sam Steel (23) celebrates his goal with teammate Jordan Kyrou (25) against Denmark’s Emil Gransoe (1) and Christian Larsen (4) during first period IIHF World Junior Championship preliminary action in Buffalo, N.Y., on Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canada’s Sam Steel (23) celebrates his goal with teammate Jordan Kyrou (25) against Denmark’s Emil Gransoe (1) and Christian Larsen (4) during first period IIHF World Junior Championship preliminary action in Buffalo, N.Y., on Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS

Howden scores twice as Canada routs Denmark 8-0

Canadians win Group A at world juniors

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Brett Howden scored twice as Canada routed Denmark 8-0 on Saturday to win Group A at the world junior hockey championships.

As the top seed in Group A, Canada will face the fourth place team from Group B in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.

Their opponent will either be the Czech Republic or Switzerland, depending on the result of their game on Sunday.

Carter Hart had a 18-save shutout for Canada (3-0-1).

Robert Thomas, Sam Steel, Cale Makar, Alex Formenton, Michael McLeod and Drake Batherson rounded out the attack as the Canadians dominated play throughout the game.

Emil Gransoe stopped 36 shots for Denmark (0-4), which finished last in the group and will have play its way out of relegation starting on Tuesday.

Even though Canada and the United States could both finish the preliminary round with three wins — pending the Americans’ game against Finland on Sunday — the Canadians take top spot in Group A because all three of their wins came in regulation time, which is worth more points. Canada’s one loss was in the shootout, which earns them another point.

The Americans, who were idle Saturday, have won once in regulation, once in the shootout, and lost once in regulation.

Defenceman Dante Fabbro, who has struggled to get into game shape after missing most of Canada’s selection camp and two pre-season exhibitions with a lower-body contusion, did not play after the first intermission. Head coach Dominique Ducharme said before the game that he would limit the playing time of some players who were banged up.

Thomas took a feed from Taylor Raddysh in the corner and fired an odd-angle shot on Gransoe, squeezing the puck by him to open scoring 3:52 into the first period.

Howden added to that lead with 2:39 left in the first period, shovelling a backhand into the net after a Danish defender took out Gransoe by accident.

With less than 25 seconds on the clock in the first, Kale Clague fired a puck on net, with Steel right on Gransoe’s doorstep to bat in the rebound for a 3-0 lead.

Although it wasn’t the sharpest period from the Canadians, their superior puck-handling skills and speed helped them dominate play for the first 20 minutes of the game. Canada outshot Denmark 14-4 and could have registered even more shots if their passing had been a little more crisp.

Makar continued the scoring for Canada nearly eight minutes into the second, snapping a wristshot from the face-off circle for a power-play goal and a 4-0 lead. Less than 90 seconds later Howden had his second of the game, tipping a Dillon Dube slapshot into the net.

Formenton, an Ottawa Senators prospect, roofed the puck over Gransoe’s shoulder early in the third on a partial breakaway to increase Canada’s lead to 6-0. McLeod wristed a shot through traffic less than six minutes later to pile on and Batherson scored shortly after that.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

IIHF world junior hockey

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