MALMO, SWEDEN - That Anthony Mantha recorded a hat trick against an inferior German squad Thursday should have surprised nobody.
After all, scoring goals is what Mantha does at home with the Val-d’Or Foreurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Mantha, a Detroit Red Wings prospect, has a league-high 35 goals in 32 games. Last season, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound winger had 50 goals, the lone player in the Quebec league to reach the milestone. But Mantha’s ability to put the puck in the net never was a guarantee that he was going to stick with the Canadian juniors, and for a time in the past couple of weeks, it was touch-and-go whether the native of Longueuil, Que., would be one of coach Brent Sutter’s two cuts at forward.
A steady improvement, however, convinced Sutter and his staff that Mantha had a few more dimensions to his game.
“I know in the short period of time we have been doing this, he is a better player than he was 11 days ago,” Sutter said after Mantha’s hat trick paced Canada to a 7-2 drubbing of Germany in the opener of the 2014 world junior championship.