Saturday, August 6 | 4 p.m. MT | Red Deer, Alberta | Gold Medal Game
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 night, 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