After a one year hiatus away from the medals, Canada returned to glory as gold medal champions at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Team Canada crushed the Czech Republic 4-1 on home ice at the Ice Bors Arena to capture their ninth championship in the last ten years.
“It was a great tournament to showcase our skills and dedication to the team” said Canadian team captain Joe Veleno.
“Everybody worked really hard and we came out on top which was really nice to see.”
After suffering a 4-3 shootout loss in their opening game against Russia in the preliminary round, Canada registered a perfect 4-0 record the rest of the way.
Canada earned their spot in the gold medal game with a convincing 4-1 victory over Sweden in one of the two semifinal contests at this year’s Ivan Hlinka Memorial.
The host Czechs disposed of the Russians 2-1 in the other do or die matchup to qualify for the championship final.
In the end, the gold medal was never even close as Canada dominated on the score sheet and the shot clock with a 46-19 advantage over the Czech Republic.
In the first period, Canada outshot their opponents 19-4 but emerged with a slim 1-0 lead courtesy of a Jared McIsaac (Halifax Mooseheads) marker.
The second frame was similar with the Canadians blitzing Czech goaltender Lukas Dostal with another 16 attempts.
For their continued efforts, Canada was rewarded with two tallies off the sticks of Joe Veleno (Saint John Sea Dogs) and Kevin Bahl (Ottawa 67’s) to go ahead 3-1 after 40 minutes of play.
Jack McBain completed a three point game (1G, 2A) with his third goal of the tournament to seal the win for Canada.
Noah Dobson (Acadie-Bathurst Titans) and Akil Thomas (Niagara IceDogs) helped the Canadian cause with a pair of helpers.
Team Canada goaltender Olivier Rodrigue (Drummondville Voltigeurs) had a fairly quiet game between the pipes, stopping 18 of 19 Czech Republic shots for the win.
Tournament News & Notes: Since 2000, Canada has won 15 U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Championships.
The oddity is that between 2000 and 2017 besides winning gold they failed to pick up a medal.
Only three other countries have won gold during the past 18 events, the United States (2003), Sweden (2007) and Czech Republic (2016).
In the bronze medal game, Sweden edged Russia 4-3 in overtime to take home their ninth medal in tournament history.
Silver: Czech Republic
5th: United States
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