Stone, Connolly hold hot hands

Canada forward Mark Stone celebrates a goal against the USA during a World Junior Hockey...

Canada forward Mark Stone celebrates a goal against the USA during a World Junior Hockey Championship match at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., Dec. 31, 2011. (DAVID BLOOM/QMI Agency)

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:03 PM ET

CALGARY - As a show of appreciation for the fans in Edmonton, members of Team Canada gifted their sticks to spectators after their New Year's Eve victory over the Americans at Rexall Place.

Mark Stone might've wanted to keep his.

With seven snipes in four outings, the Brandon Wheat Kings winger is tied for the goal-scoring lead at the latest instalment of the world junior tournament.

"He's hot," said Team Canada forward Brett Connolly. "He's playing great. He's obviously scoring some big goals for us now."

He's not the only one.

There are a couple of things Team Canada has been able to count on at this event.

Every game, they've received raucous support from the home crowd.

Every game, they've received goals from Stone and Connolly.

Stone started strong with a hat-trick against Team Finland on Boxing Day, scored twice on Denmark and added singles in victories over the Czech Republic and the U.S.

Connolly, meanwhile, has been a model of consistency, celebrating one tally in each contest so far.

Only two other shooters -- Sweden's Max Friberg and Joakim Nordstrom -- have lit the lamp every time they've hit the ice at this tourney. It's probably no coincidence all four marksmen will be spectators for Monday's quarterfinals at the Saddledome, with their squads finishing first in their respective pools and earning an extra day of rest.

Team Canada will meet the winner of a quarterfinal clash between the Czech Republic and Russia in the semis, while the Swedes will face off against either Finland or Slovakia.

"Every time you get on the board, it's nice," Connolly said after Team Canada arrived in Calgary on New Year's Day. "I want to be good defensively and I want to be a plus-player every game. And for me chip in offensively, that's what I wanted to to do, as well. I wanted to be a good two-way forward and contribute in every regard.

"I'm happy with the way I've played but for me, and for all the others players here, everybody needs to be better and elevate their game for the next two."

For opposing netminders, the thought that Connolly and Stone have another level is likely terrifying.

An early Christmas gift from the Tampa Bay Lightning, who loaned the rugged winger to Team Canada for the world juniors, Connolly has already equalled his goal total from the NHL, where he's scored four times in 28 appearances so far as a rookie.

A sixth-round steal of the Ottawa Senators in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Stone is currently sitting fourth in the Western Hockey League's goal-scoring race. His hands are the reason he's here, even if he claims that linemates Ryan Strome and Jonathan Huberdeau are doing all the work.

"(Scoring) is obviously something you want to do. You want to contribute offensively. You want to contribute in any way," Stone said. "Obviously, getting goals is a huge thrill."

A thrill he must be getting accustomed to.

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNGilbertson


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