Toews moving forward

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

MORA, Sweden -- For a guy who has another year of eligibility remaining with the Canadian junior team, Jonathan Toews puts a lot of heat on himself.

The 18-year-old Winnipeg native is rounding into Canada's top two-way forward, yet he simply was happy to score two goals in a 6-3 win yesterday against the United States.

"It's nice to get the monkey off my back," Toews, named Canada's player of the game, said with a smile. "It was a little hard after not scoring last year."

Toews had two assists in six games last winter in Vancouver as Canada won gold. Now trying for its third gold in a row, Canada is in good shape with a 2-0 record, beating Sweden and the U.S. -- clubs that were supposed to present a greater challenge. Tomorrow Canada gets upstart Germany, also 2-0 after beating Slovakia 4-2 yesterday, and Slovakia on Sunday to finish its preliminary games. If Canada wins both, as it should, it will advance to a semi-final game on Wednesday.

Toews is doing his part. He is getting time on both special teams and taking crucial faceoffs. The third pick overall in the 2006 National Hockey League entry draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, Toews is becoming the blueprint for the kind of forward Hockey Canada wants at this level -- one who is effective at both ends of the ice on a consistent basis.

BRIGHT EYES

"He has those big bright eyes and just wants to take in information," coach Craig Hartsburg said. "He's always talking and loves his teammates. He plays like we would like all of our players to play."

Fellow Canada forward Darren Helm, of St. Andrews, Man., was born in Winnipeg and remembered facing off against Toews a few times when they were much younger. Now Helm, who is more than a year older than Toews, looks up to him.

"He stepped up and showed why he is a leader when he scored on that penalty shot," Helm said. "When he steps up, it is huge for the rest of us."


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