While the 2020-21 Ontario Hockey League season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kitchener Rangers forward Francesco Pinelli is showing NHL scouts that he deserves to be in the mix as a first round pick at this year’s draft.
The 18-year-old, who had 41 points during his rookie campaign in Kitchener, scored three goals and added an assist on Friday as Canada cruised to a 7-0 win over Switzerland at the IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championship in Plano, Texas.
Pinelli now leads the team in scoring with seven points, which puts him in a tie for the tournament’s top scorer honours with Russian phenom Matevi Michkov and Finnish teammates Samu Tuomaala and Villie Koivunen.
Olen Zellweger (Everett Silvertips) had four assists in the contest as Canada improved to 3-0 in Group A play.
Corson Ceulemans (Brooks Bandits) scored a goal and dished out two helpers in his return to the lineup, while Brennan Othmann (Flint Firebirds), Dylan Guenther (Edmonton Oil Kings) and Connor Bedard (Regina Pats) also lit the lamp and Thomas Millic (Seattle Thunderbirds) turned aside all 11 shots he faced.
Canada, who were without team captain Shane Wright (Kingston Frontenacs) for a second straight game, will look to wrap up a perfect round-robin on Saturday at 7 p.m. when they’ll face Belarus.
That contest will also see Prince Albert Raiders blueliner Nolan Allan go up against forward Uladzislau Shyla, who the club drafted in the 2020 CHL Import Draft.
Allan has a goal in three games so far at the tournament, while Shyla has a trifecta of assists in three contests.
- Canada – 9 points
- Belarus – 6 points
- Sweden – 6 points
- Switzerland – 3 points
- Latvia – 0 points
- Finland – 8 points
- Russia – 6 points
- United States – 6 points
- Czech Republic – 4 points
- Germany – 0 points
- Sweden 3 Switzerland 1 (Liam Dower Nilsson (Frolunda) – One Goal and One Assist)
- Russia 6 Germany 1 (Matvei Michkov (SKA St. Petersburg) – Four Goals)
- Belarus 6 Latvia 2 (Dmitri Kuzmin (Dinamo Molodechno – Flint Firebirds Draft Pick) – Three Assists)
- United States 2 Czech Republic 1 (Lane Hutson (US NTDP – Committed to the Boston Terriers) Shootout Winner – Kaidan Mbereko (US NTDP) – 30 Saves)
- Finland 10 Germany 0 (Samu Salminen (Jokerit – Committed to the Denver Pioneers) – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Canada 7 Switzerland 0 (Francesco Pinelli (Kitchener Rangers) – Three Goals and One Assist)