Canada Dominates Switzerland on Night One of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup
7 months ago
Canada’s quest for gold got off to a perfect start in Red Deer, beating Switzerland 14-0, not a typo, in their first game of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
More than half of Canada’s goals came in the opening period, with Colby Barlow getting the first on a shorthanded breakaway. Barlow scored a second in the period and soon joined Carson Rehkopf, Brayden Yager, Matthew Wood, Andrew Cristall, and Ethan Gauthier, who scored twice. Sixteen players scored a point in the first period for Canada, including goaltender Scott Ratzlaff. Switzerland switched goaltenders only nine minutes into the game after Diego Simeoni allowed four goals on seven shots.
The hosts had their fans in Red Deer celebrating six more times before the buzzer sounded in the third. Riley Heidt scored the signature goal of the night with nine seconds left, dragging the puck around a Swiss defenceman and then sliding the puck through Huet’s legs. The Canadian’s remaining five goals came from Gauthier, completing the hat trick, Kalen Lind, Denver Barkley, Caden Price, and Calum Ritchie.
Scott Ratzlaff wasn’t given much to do, but when called upon, he answered. Early in the first period, the officials called Rehkopf for boarding leading to the first powerplay of the game. A turnover from the Canadians gave Switzerland a golden opportunity to score first but Ratzlaff denied them point blank, and that save led to him getting an assist on Barlow’s shorthanded goal. The Thunderbirds netminder finished with a 17-save shutout.
Overall, Head coach Stephane Julien couldn’t have asked for much better from his team. They came out earlier with high energy and put the game out of reach in the first period. After that, the game got a little looser which led to some errors here and there, however, if Canada tightens that up against more formidable opponents then their skill will do the rest of the talking. All but one forward managed to register a point along with 17 of the 20 skaters, which should help confidence levels. Not every game will come this easy for the Canadians as they still have Sweden left to play in the preliminary round.
- Tanner Molendyk was one of many Canadian players that stood out last night. He’s very composed with the puck and controls his pace almost perfectly, which helps him weave in and out of the defenders. It doesn’t look like he’s moving fast, but before you know it, he’s past everyone and creating a chance.
- Zach Benson is a relentless hockey player. He’s consistently closing down the opposition and winning the puck back to create more chances. That’s exactly what he did on the Canadian’s 4th goal when he stole the puck from behind the net and passed it out front to Ethan Gauthier.
- Ewan Huet came in relief for Switzerland and, despite what the stat sheet says, actually did a solid job. His save of the game was when he robbed Zach Benson in the third period. Perhaps Canada let off the gas, but Huet battled for his country until the end.
- It may have only been game one for Canada, but the chemistry between the players was apparent. They knew where to find each other on the ice and played within their system. If anything, they could play more freely because of the early chemistry, but watching them against a lower-tiered team was still impressive.
- Team Canada is highly skilled. That isn’t breaking news to anybody, but it became obvious on Sunday night for those that weren’t aware. Their first three goals came from breakaways and finished with great ease. Hockey Canada has built a dangerous roster and one that is capable of running away from the competition.
- One negative to take away from this game is the number of penalties Canada took. Six times they found themselves on the penalty kill, and while the Swiss weren’t able to take advantage of those opportunities, if you make those same mistakes against a USA or Sweden, you’re going to be in trouble. Canada needs to tighten up their discipline as the tournament continues.
Post Game Quotes
*quotes from the Hockey Canada Website
“Credit to our players tonight. The first penalty kill we got a big save from Scott (Ratzlaff) and we turned around and scored. That was a big moment in the game for us and then we capitalized every time we had some time in the offensive zone. It’s a short-term tournament, and you don’t want to create bad habits. That was the challenge from our staff and overall, we can’t be disappointed about much tonight,” said Heach coach Stéphane Julien
“It’s a privilege to play on the penalty kill. You have to be thinking defense first but tonight we got a couple of bounces, and I was fortunate to capitalize on my chances,” said Colby Barlow, who scored twice shorthanded.
“I’m proud of our guys tonight. Up and down the lineup we had guys chipping in. It’s tough to keep your head in it when the game gets away like that, but credit the Swiss, they played hard right to the end and kept us honest,” said Captain Cameron Allen, who finished with four points.
Canada is back in action on Tuesday night when they take on Team Slovakia. The Slovakians won the competition in 2021 but are now without Juraj Slavkovsky and Simon Nemec, who went 1st and 2nd in the most recent NHL Draft. In the pre-tournament game, Slovakia lost 8-0 to Team USA. We’ll see if the Slovaks’ luck changes when they play Team Sweden today.
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