December 26, 2013
To think there was debate whether Team Canada should take the player with 35 goals in the Quebec league or the one with five in the Western league for the world junior championship.
There are better, less cherry-picky, infinitely fairer ways to express the distinction between Team Canada's Anthony Mantha and Hunter Shinkaruk, the gifted Vancouver Canucks first-rounder who was the penultimate forward cut from the national junior team. (Shinkaruk scored 49 goals in the WHL as a 17-year-old two seasons ago, while Mantha buried 50 as an 18-year-old in the QMJHL last season; they were chosen four picks apart in the NHL draft. Shinkaruk also played hurt for much of his abbreviated first half in Medicine Hat, and there's a good question about how hurt.)
Yet Mantha, with his long wingspan at 6-foot-5 and supple hands, is a uniquely gifted goal scorer, which is precisely the point being poorly expressed. The Val-d'Or Foreurs star showed that with his hat trick during Canada's 7-2 win over Germany.
There is the whole 'compete level' stigma with Mantha, since (sarcasm alert), no player who averages two points per game could possibly also possess any intangibles. That would be unfair to everyone else.
Mantha says he needed a big game today or he risked falling down Sutter's depth chart; Brent & him have had chats about d & compete level
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) December 26, 2013
Mantha's first two goals were fairly perfunctory, but that's what goal scorers do, bury the obvious ones. The Longueuil, Que., native scored the 2-1 goal by pouncing on a fat rebound from goalie Marvin Cüpper (6:13 in the IIHF recap).
The nets overseas tend to be shallower than those in North America. Mantha took advantage in the first period when he skated out and used his long reach to elude Cüpper and stuff in the wraparound (11:04 in the IIHF recap).
Mantha completed the hat trick with a patented play, getting open to the left of the goal to convert a pass from Jonathan Drouin. Mantha scored from the exact same point on the ice during the second game of the Subway Super Series in November (20:18 in the IIHF recap).
Canada was not in danger of doing anything less than winning by a comfortable margin vs. Germany. If nothing else, a hat trick ought to buoy Mantha's confidence.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to email@example.com (video: IIHF).