TV: TSN | Stream: TSN Direct
Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team
has won its way to the gold medal game at the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup,
facing off with Sweden in a rematch of the 2018 final with a chance to
claim its 23rd summer U18 gold.
Canada skated to a 4-1 victory over Finland
in its semifinal on the back of a 23-save performance from Scott Ratzlaff,
who has allowed just a single goal on 59 shots through his three starts.
After a slow start, Ethan Gauthier danced around the Finnish defence and
went upstairs on the backhand to get the Canadians going. Calum Ritchie
made it 2-0 with his tournament-leading ninth point, banking in a shot off
the end boards, and Matthew Wood and Denver Barkey scored 19 seconds apart
in the third period to send Canada through to the final.
The Swedes held off a spirited push from Czechia in their semifinal,
scoring three times in the final 3:16
to pull away for a 6-2 win. Otto Stenberg scored twice, and Axel Sandin-Pellikka and David Edstrom
added a pair of assists each for Sweden, which finished with a 39-30
advantage in shots on goal.
Canada capped a perfect preliminary round against the Swedes on Wednesday
coming away with a 3-0 win. Ratzlaff secured his second shutout of the tournament, turning away all
18 shots he faced, while Brayden Yager and Calum Ritchie had a
goal and an assist each.
WHAT TO WATCH
While Canada has impressed offensively, its blue-liners have made scoring
opportunities few and far between for opposing teams. The Canadians have
allowed only 79 shots in four games (an average of 19.75 per contest), with
the 24 shots Finland managed in the semifinal the most Canada has given up.
Captain Cameron Allen has anchored the penalty-killing crew, which has not
allowed a goal in 20 man-advantages against.
The Swedes need to have a short memory. They were stymied in their prelim
matchup with the Canadians, managing just 18 shots on goal and going
goalless on four power plays. Stenberg has been the offensive catalyst for
the Scandinavians; his eight points are tied for second in tournament
scoring, even with Yager and one back of Ritchie, and his five goals leave
him level with Gauthier for the tournament lead.
A LOOK BACK
Canada and Sweden have met 21 times in summer U18 play since 2001,
including three gold medal games—all of them wins for the Canadians.
Brendan Gaunce had a goal and an assist in
a 4-1 victory in 2011, Pierre-Luc Dubois scored twice in a four-goal first period in
a 7-3 win in 2015, and Alexis Lafrenière and Sasha Mutala scored two goals apiece in a 6-2
home-ice triumph in Edmonton in 2018.
All-time record: Canada leads 18-3-0 (1-1 in OT/SO)
Canada goals: 89
Sweden goals: 43