EHLERS SCORES TWICE, DENMARK GETS WIN IN WJAC DEBUT
KINDERSLEY, Sask. – First-round NHL draft pick Nikolaj Ehlers lived up to expectations on Sunday night, scoring twice to lead Denmark to a 3-2 win over Canada West in the opening game for both at the 2014 World Junior A Challenge.
The ninth-overall pick by the Winnipeg Jets last June, Ehlers found mesh in the second and third periods, powering by a Canadian defender and sliding the puck five-hole past Canadian netminder Tommy Nixon (Sherwood Park, Alta./Sherwood Park, AJHL) to seal the win with just three minutes left.
Mikkel Aagaard opened the scoring for Denmark with the only five-on-five goal of the game, taking a pass out of the corner from Matthias Asperup and beating Nixon with a quick release at 18:24 of the first period.
Special teams took over from there, with the teams combining for four power play goals – two apiece – over the final 40 minutes.
Ehlers made it 2-0 at 3:20 of the second period, knocking in a centering pass from Oliver Bjorkstrand, but Gabe Bast (Red Deer, Alta./Penticton, BCHL) beat Lillie with a shot from the point to cut the Danish lead in half heading to the intermission.
Tyson Jost (Kelowna, B.C./Penticton, BCHL) tied it just past the seven-minute mark of the third, walking out of the corner and beating Danish goaltender Thomas Lillie with a shot to the short side.
It was the second game of the day in which a Canadian team outshot their opponent, only to concede a late goal and ultimately come up short: in the tournament opener, Canada East surrendered the tying goal to Switzerland at 16:55 of the third period and went on to lose in a shootout.
Nixon made 22 saves on 25 shots in a losing cause, while Lillie stopped 31 of the 33 shots he faced.
Denmark has a short turnaround before its next game, taking on Russia on Monday afternoon (3:30 p.m. CT), while the Canadians will enjoy an off day before closing out Group B against the Russians on Tuesday night (7:30 p.m. CT).