BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA -- Kris Beech of Sicamous, BC scored four goals and Charlie Stephens of London, ON, had seven points, including three goals on Sunday to power Canada's Under-18 Hockey Team to an 18-0 rout of Belarus and the gold medal at a Four-Nation international hockey tournament.
Canada and the Czech Republic finished with won-lost-tied records of 2-0-1, but Canada earned the tournament championship on the basis of goal differential. The Czechs beat Belarus 10-1 and edged host Slovakia 2-1 on Sunday in their final game. Slovakia finished third. Canada and the Czechs tied 3-3 in the tournament opener. Canada beat Slovakia on Thursday 5-2.
On Sunday, Canada outshot Belarus 64-15 as several players had multiple point games. David Morisset of Langley, BC, Taylor Pyatt of Thunder Bay, ON, Rory McDade of New Westminster, BC, and Krystoff Wieckowski of Ottawa, ON all scored twice, while Peter Reynolds of Waterloo, ON chipped in three assists.
Maxime Ouellet of Beauport, QC played goal for Canada in the final game of the round-robin tournament. Brian Finley of Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada's other netminder, was named the top goalie in the tournament. Jan Choteborski of the Czech Republic was named top defenceman, while Marian Gaborik of Slovakia was named top forward.
The National Under-18 team is part of the Canadian Hockey Association's Program of Excellence, which is designed to identify top hockey prospects and provide them with opportunities to further develop their skills by playing for Canada against top-flight international competition.
Other components of the Program of Excellence include the regional Under-17 teams that compete in international tournaments in Canada each year and, of course, the National Junior Team, which is currently holding its summer evaluation camp in Winnipeg, MB, where the 1999 World Junior Championship will be held from Dec. 26-Jan. 5.