The gloves, helmets, and sticks were sent to the skies on Saturday night as Team Canada captured their 23rd gold medal at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Canada went undefeated in the tournament rounding out the week with a 4-1 win over Sweden to take home the gold.
It didn’t take Canada long to open the scoring after Tanner Howe got the goal siren buzzing less than six minutes into the first period, banking his shot off the back of Noah Erliden in the Swedish goal. Howe created a few more chances tonight and came close but was kept to only one. Shortly after his goal, Canada conceded only their third goal of the week and tied at one for the first time in the tournament. A turnover in the neutral zone gave Hugo Pettersson a ton of open ice ahead of him, and he made no mistake. However, the Canadians didn’t go away and pushed back to regain the lead. That second goal came late in the period from, who else, Ethan Gauthier. Riley Heidt found Gauthier on the edge of the faceoff circle, and he capitalized on the opportunity with a well placed snipe. The Sherbrooke Phoenix forward was lethal for Canada and finished with six goals, which led the tournament.
Canada came out pressing in the second period, and their efforts were rewarded. A fortunate bounce for Calum Ritchie resulted in his fourth for Canada. The puck wrapped around the boards but hit them awkwardly, bouncing right out in front for Ritchie to tap into an open net. Brayden Yager closed the game, putting Canada up 4-1 with less than five to play in the third period.
Shortly after, Oh Canada echoed through the Peavey Mart Centrium in Red Deer as Canada celebrated yet another gold medal.
- Between the pipes, Scott Ratzlaff had another stellar game stopping 25 of 26 shots. He finished the tournament with 0.50 goals against average, and a 0.976 save percentage, along with two shutouts. Some people think it’s easy being the goaltender for Team Canada, but it’s not. Ratzlaff earned those numbers every night and was arguably the Canadian’s best player at the tournament.
- Canada one this tournament without their best eligible player, Connor Bedard, and did it with ease. I can only imagine the damage he would’ve done this past week.
- Canada’s offence was rolling and scored a whopping 34 goals in only five games. Only Oliver Bonk was left off the box score, but he played a pivot role in the team’s defensive game, which only allowed three goals.
- Calum Ritchie finished the tournament with 10 points, which was the most.
- The 2005 draft class is elite and one that could go down in history. If you have the opportunity to go and watch these kids in a junior rink near you, I would highly recommend it.
Post Game Quotes
*quotes from the Hockey Canada Website
“Three weeks ago, we put this roster together, and I felt right away this was a tight group,” said head coach Stéphane Julien. “It’s not easy when you have this much talent, but everyone accepted their role, and I’m so happy for them.”
“This is an unbelievable group of guys. We came to play today and all week long. We had one goal all along, and that was to win, and this feels amazing. The atmosphere was amazing, these fans, this country … this was a great experience,” said Ethan Gauthier.
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