It was exactly the start and result they were looking for.
Team Canada began the 2017 IIHF U18 World Championship in the best way possible with a solid 4-1 victory over Latvia as both teams played their first game in the preliminary round.
The Canadian squad flexed their offensive muscles over the entire sixty minutes with 54 shots on the Latvian goal, including 25 in the second period.
MacKenzie Entwistle (Hamilton Bulldogs, OHL) led the Canadian attack with a goal and an assist.
Stelio Mattheos (Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL), Maxime Comtois (Victoriaville Tigres, QMJHL) and Isaac Ratcliffe (Guelph Storm, OHL) were the other Canadian scorers.
Canada jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 11:50 of the opening period when Mattheos scored on a penalty shot after being awarded a free pass when he was tripped up by a Latvian opponent as the Wheat Kings forward attempted to break in all alone on G Niklavs Rauza.
Mattheos beat Rauza with a nifty move that froze the Latvian goaltender before snapping the puck high over his glove into the top corner of the net.
Latvia responded with a goal by Rihards Paskausks with less than two minutes remaining in the period to tie the game at 1-1 but that turned out to be their only goal of the match.
It was all Canada in the middle frame as they directed more than two dozen shots at the Latvian net and were rewarded with two tallies.
Comtois put Canada up a goal 2-1 with a power play marker at 3:36 with assists from Entwistle and Jaret Anderson-Dolan (Spokane Chiefs, WHL).
Less than five minutes later, Canada increased their lead to 3-1 when Ratcliffe capitalized on an offensive face-off win by teammate Nate Schnarr (Guelph Storm, OHL) to beat Rauza.
Entwistle then put his team ahead by three goals midway through the final stanza as he redirected a Ty Smith (Spokane Chiefs, WHL) pass into the Latvian net to give Canada a 4-1 advantage. D Ian Mitchell (Spruce Grove Saints, AJHL) also drew an assist on the goal.
Canadian goalkeeper Ian Scott (Prince Albert Raiders, WHL) made 18 saves for the win. Rausa, his counterpart in the Latvian goal stopped 50 of 54 shots.
Canada (1-0-0-0) will be back in action on Saturday, April 15 when they face- off against host Slovakia (0-0-0-1) at (1:30 p.m. ET/10:30 a.m. PT on TSN).
The Slovaks lost 5-4 to Finland (1-0-0-0) on opening day.
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