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Warriors’ Yager among tournament scoring leaders as Canada wins first two at Hlinka Gretzky Cup

Moose Jaw forward puts up goal, assist in 14-0 win over Switzerland, has four-point game in Canada’s 9-1 win over Slovakia
Hlinka Gretzky Warriors Yager
Moose Jaw Warriors forward Brayden Yager celebrates after scoring against Slovakia on Tuesday night.

Team Canada’s run at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup might be only two games old, but Moose Jaw Warriors forward Brayden Yager is already having himself a tournament.

Yager, 17, is among the tournament scoring leaders through Canada’s first two contests, which saw the tournament hosts take a 14-0 win over Switzerland Sunday night and 9-1 victory over Slovakia Tuesday in Red Deer.

The reigning Canadian Hockey League rookie of the year had a goal and an assist in the opening game and put up two goals and four points in the second contest.

It didn’t take long for Yager to get things going in Canada’s most recent outing

Yager would score on the power play 5:15 into the proceedings and assist on Zach Benson’s (Winnipeg Ice) goal 10 minutes later as Canada took a 2-0 lead out of the first period against Slovakia.

He added his second goal of the game with 7:40 gone in the second and closed out his offensive showing with an assist when Tanner Molendyk (Saskatoon Blades) scored on the power play with 9:21 gone in the third.

“A lot of credit to my linemates there feeding me the puck. The powerplay it too was really good and when I get a chance I want to shoot and hopefully they just go in,” Yager told Ian Gustafson of the Red Deer Advocate.

Yager and Benson went toe-to-toe in the second round of the WHL playoffs this past spring but are now linemates, with Ethan Gauthier (QMJHL Sherbrooke) on his other wing.

“Playing with Benny and Gaut’s, it’s really easy,” Yager said. “They’re both super smart hockey players and we’re able to find each other. Lots of communication out there helps a lot and I thought we did a really good job. It’s lots of fun playing with those two, it’s a treat, so I’m very fortunate I get to play with those two guys.”

Yager scored his first goal of the tournament 10:43 into the first period against Switzerland, giving Canada a 5-0 lead at that point in the game. When he assisted on Victoria Royals forward Matthew Wood’s goal just six minutes later, Canada had a 7-0 edge and things were all but academic.

Canada led 8-0 after the first and 12-0 through two.

Calum Ritchie (OHL Oshawa) led Canada with a goal and four points, Cameron Allen (OHL Guelph) had four assists.

Scott Ratzlaff (WHL Seattle) started for Canada and had 17 saves to earn the shutout.

Yager and Ritchie are tied for team scoring with six points each, one back of Sweden’s Otto Stenberg for the tournament lead.

Warriors goaltender Jackson Unger is also with Team Canada, but has yet to see action.

Team Canada wraps up their round robin against Sweden on Wednesday night, with the winner of that game securing first place in their pool.

The semifinals are set for Friday at 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., with the bronze medal game 12 p.m. and gold medal contest slated for 4 p.m. Saturday.