Canada crushes Swe­den to win Hlinka Gret­zky Cup

The Western Star - - SPORTS - BY SHANE JONES

Canada has cap­tured yet an­other gold medal at the un­der18 level.

Sasha Mu­tala and Alexis Lafre­niere each had a pair of goals as Canada de­feated Swe­den 6-2 in the fi­nal of the Hlinka Gret­zky Cup on Satur­day night.

“It feels re­ally good, es­pe­cially the way we played,” said Canada head coach An­dre Tourigny. “That is the way we wanted to play. We were down by two and we showed some real char­ac­ter to come back the way we did.”

Kirby Dach and Josh Wil­liams also scored for Canada, which has now won the tour­na­ment 10 of the last 11 years, and has earned gold 22 times in the event’s 28-year his­tory.

“We just stayed fo­cused on our game plan,” Lafre­niere said. “They scored two quick goals, but we kept work­ing. Good things will hap­pen. It was re­ally clutch that we scored two quick goals.”

Lucas Ray­mond and Alexan­der Holtz replied with goals for Swe­den, which also lost 4-3 to Canada in the round robin.

Canada was for­tu­nate to be in the fi­nal af­ter scor­ing a ga­me­ty­ing goal at the buzzer against the United States in the semis that likely would have been called back if video re­play was al­lowed. Canada went on to win 6-5 in over­time.

Against Swe­den, Canada faced an early deficit. Swe­den scored just 42 sec­onds into the first pe­riod on a power play as Ray­mond ri­fled a shot top cor­ner past Cana­dian goalie Nolan Maier.

Swe­den took a 2-0 lead with eight and a half min­utes re­main­ing as Holtz beat Maier on a break­away, prompt­ing Canada to make a goalie change, with Tay­lor Gau­thier com­ing into the game.

“When he came in, he brought a lot of con­fi­dence to our team with his en­ergy in the net,” Tourigny said. “He made a few key saves in the se­cond pe­riod that were game-break­ers for us.”

The move seemed to give the Cana­di­ans some life as they got on the board just 41 sec­onds later when Mu­tala tipped a puck past Swedish goal­tender Hugo Al­ne­felt. A cou­ple min­utes later Canada knot­ted the game up as 2020 first over­all draft pick favourite Lafre­niere stole a puck and sent it on net, where it was redi­rected in by Dach.

Canada took the lead with two min­utes to play in the open­ing frame when Lafre­niere dodged through the de­fence to score.

The home team took a twogoal lead with eight min­utes left in the se­cond as a Dy­lan Hol­loway shot went off Mu­tala’s cage and de­flected in.

Canada went up 5-2 five min­utes into the third when Wil­liams scored on a give-and-go and added more in­sur­ance on a power-play goal by Lafre­niere with six min­utes left.

“This is a sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence,” said de­fence­man Matthew Robert­son, who was play­ing on his home ice as a mem­ber of the Ed­mon­ton Oil Kings of the WHL. “It is just a com­plete hon­our. Get­ting to rep­re­sent your coun­try is very rare and it feels great to come away with a gold.”

Rus­sia de­feated the U.S. 5-4 in the bronze-medal match.


Canada cel­e­brates their vic­tory against Swe­den fol­low­ing the Hlinka Gret­zky Cup gold medal game in Ed­mon­ton on Satur­day. Canada won 6-2.

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