Canada in semis

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:23 AM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Luckily for Canada, Jimmy Carter's bad experience in the OHL wasn't so terrible that he steered his son Jeff away from minor hockey a dozen years later. Jeff Carter, a young man of few words, let his stick do the talking with three goals last night in Canada's 8-1 victory over Finland at the world junior hockey championship.

The win clinched first place in group B for Canada and a bye to the semifinals on Sunday.

Canada outscored its opponents 32-5 in the four games and outshot Finland 51-20.

But it wasn't all good news. Defenceman Cam Barker of the Medicine Hat Tigers, a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, has mononucleosis and is out for the tournament. He's returning to Winnipeg today.

"It's not good right now," head coach Brent Sutter said. "For right now, we're going to call it the flu."

Carter, 19, from London and playing in the Ontario Hockey League with the Soo Greyhounds, broke the game open with his three goals in the second period.

He has five in the tournament and, combined with the five he scored at last year's championship in Helsinki, he's two off the career record for goals held by Eric Lindros, who played in 1990, '91 and '92.

Carter is the second generation to play in the OHL. Father Jimmy was with the Oshawa Generals in 1976-77, when they won only five games with Sherry Bassin as coach.

Jimmy soured on major junior after that season and returned to play junior B with the London Diamonds.

Jeff's decision to pursue hockey will pay off handsomely, once the NHL resumes. He was selected in the first round, 11th overall, by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2003.

His future boss, Flyers general manager Bob Clarke, is here and was gushing about Carter's performance yesterday.

"I don't think there's a weakness in his game," Clarke said.

"Skating, he's in full flight from a dead stop. Most big guys can take a little while to get going, but he's in full flight and that's why he can get around defencemen and stuff.

"He can change gears and he can really shoot it, too. Those things are critical in the NHL."

Clarke said Carter will play on one of the the Flyers' top two lines, no question.

"I don't know what there would be," Clarke said when asked if there are any negative to Carter's game. "Nothing I don't like."

Clarke would bring Carter into the NHL if there is a season this year.

"I guess that will be up to the rules (but) if they allow us to, we would. You hate to do that to a junior club, but if they're ready for the NHL and if they can help it, we'll play them.

"A guy like Carter can start on the wing. You can take your time and put him with good players."

Carter wasn't aware Clarke was in the seats until Canadian captain Michael Richards, also a Flyers first-round draft pick, pointed him out when he was shown on the videoboard late in the first period.

"I was sitting beside Richie at one point on the bench and he told me it was up on the big screen there and the next thing you know Richie has a goal and I go out and get a couple (three, actually)."

Richards scored a short-handed goal with 22 seconds remaining in the first period.

Carter scored his goals at 1:32, 14:27 and 17:29 of the second. Linemate Ryan Getzlaf of the Calgary Hitmen, who played with Carter in Helsinki, assisted on two of the goals.

Brent Burns, the third member of that line at the 2004 championship, is in the AHL and wasn't made available to the juniors by the Minnesota Wild.

"Getz and I had a little chemistry coming into the tournament," Carter said.

The third member of their line here is Andrew Ladd of the Hitmen. They have 10 goals and 18 points.

Carter said this has nothing to do with making amends for last year, when the Canadians blew a third-period lead and lost 4-3 to the U.S. in the final.

"We're not worrying about that," he said. "This is a new year and we're looking for big things this year.

"It's nice to come through with four big wins in the round-robin, but we're past that now. We've got a big game coming up now in the semi-finals. We're not sure who we're playing, but that's what we have to focus on now."


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