FOUR-GOAL FIRST HELPS CANADA TO SEVENTH STRAIGHT HLINKA GOLD
JASON LA ROSE
BRECLAV, Czech Republic – Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team scored four times in a 13-minute span of the first period to help it to a 6-2 win over the Czech Republic on Saturday and a seventh consecutive gold medal at the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.
Canada has taken home every gold medal from the annual summer under-18 tournament since 2008, winning a remarkable 31 of 33 games over that span. It was 5-0 this year, outscoring its opponents 32-10.
Dylan Strome (Mississauga, Ont./Erie, OHL), Lawson Crouse (Mount Brydges, Ont./Kingston, OHL), Mitchell Marner (Thornhill, Ont./London, OHL) and Travis Konecny (Clachan, Ont./Ottawa, OHL) scored in the opening 20 minutes for Canada to put the game out of reach early.
Crouse finished with two goals, while Nicolas Roy (Amos, Que./Chicoutimi, QMJHL) was the other Canadian to put his name on the scoresheet.
Marner finished with a goal and two assists, Roy had a goal and a helper, and Jérémy Roy (Richelieu, Que./Sherbrooke, QMJHL) and Matthew Spencer (Oakville, Ont./Peterborough, OHL) chipped in with two assists apiece.
The Canadians quieted the sold-out, pro-Czech crowd at Alcaplast Arena early, with Strome taking a pass from Marner and tucking it past Czech goaltender Daniel Vladar just 3:34 in.
Crouse doubled the lead on a Canadian counterattack at 9:06, snapping a shot past Vladar, and Marner found a loose puck in a scramble in front of the Czech net to make it 3-0 less than four minutes later.
Konecny finished the offensive onslaught – and ended Vladar’s night – with three minutes left in the opening period, hammering home a slap shot on a Canadian power play.
Despite the big Canadian lead, the teams were even in shots on goal after one period, 8-8.
The Czechs got one back with the man advantage early in the second period, but Nicolas Roy restored the four-goal lead midway through the middle frame, tipping in a Spencer point shot.
The tournament co-hosts made it 5-2 before the end of the second, but Crouse scored the lone goal of the third, redirecting shot from Marner for his team-leading sixth goal of the tournament.
Canada finished with a 24-19 advantage in shots on goal.
Zach Sawchenko (Calgary, Alta./Moose Jaw, WHL) had another solid performance in the Canadian goal, making 17 saves. For the tournament, Sawchenko finished a perfect 4-0, with a 2.25 goals-against average and .907 save percentage.