Pietsany, Slovakia (4E Sports) – Top NHL prospect Mathew Barzal recorded a goal and an assist to lift defending champion Canada to a 5-1 triumph over Switzerland in the opener of the 11th Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup Monday at Zimny Stadion.
Barzal, who plays center for the Seattle Thunderbirds in the Western Hockey League, scored an even-strength goal 10:12 into the first period to give Canada a 2-0 lead.
Dylan Strome, Lawson Crouse, Mitchell Vande Sompel and Mitchell Stephens also scored while goalie Zachary Sawchenko (Moose Jaw, WHL) made 20 saves to earn the victory for Canada.
Barzal, Strome, Crouse and Vande Sompel are all listed on NHL Central Scouting’s Futures List of top draft-eligible prospects for 2015 from each league. Sawchenko, for his part, isn’t eligible until the 2016 NHL Draft.
The Canadians, who have won the annual summer tournament 18 times since 1991, will next play Sweden Tuesday. Canada plays in Group B with Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland.
The top two teams from each group advance to the semifinals on Aug. 15 and the winners face off in the championship game on Aug. 16.