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Auston Matthews stickhandles puck on his knees before scoring early goal

Auston Matthews showed just how ready he was to play when he made an unbelievable deke against Team Sweden on Wednesday.

Only 20 seconds into the hockey game, Connor McDavid skated into Sweden’s end with a burst of speed and tried to get an early shot on Henrik Lundquist. While it initially looked to be a clear path to the net, a pair of Swedish defenders were able to get to him in time to force a weak shot towards on net.

Lundquist made the easy save but left the rebound to go to the side, which Matthews was able to collect on. Even though he was tripped up by Anton Stralman, forcing him to skate on his knees, Matthews was able to maintain control of the puck with his smooth stickhandling. When he got up on his feet, Matthews sent a hard pass to Morgan Rielly who was left wide open and proceeded to fire a one-timer at Lundquist. He was able to make the initial save, but Matthews easily tapped in the rebound into the empty net, giving Team North America the 1-0 lead only 30 seconds into the game. The goal was important for Team North America as they went on to win the game 4-3 in overtime.

Matthews, 19, is about to begin his NHL career following the tournament and has shown early signs throughout the World Cup that he is more than ready to make the leap. Spending last season in Switzerland with the ZSC Lions, the 1st overall pick in 2016 registered 24 goals, 22 assists, and 46 points in 36 games played. With highlights like this, Matthews will no doubt be entertaining Leafs fans everywhere for years to come.

Team North America needed this goal as the win keeps their hopes of qualifying for the Semifinals alive.  They finished the round robin part of the tournament with a 1-1-0-1 record, which is good enough for 2nd in Group B.

Now they must wait for the results of Friday’s game between Team Russia and Team Finland, as a win from the latter will qualify Team North America  for the Semifinals. The start-time for this important game is at 3:00 p.m. EST.

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You can find Michael Mazzei on Twitter @MichaelMazzei3.

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