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 Canada capped off the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup with a win in front of a sold-out lower bowl on home ice in Edmonton, Saturday, defeating Sweden by a score of 6-2.

“Everyone was on the same page. We all worked for the same goal, and that was a gold medal,” said Team Canada captain Alexis Lafrenière (Saint-Eustache, Que./Rimouski, QMJHL). “It’s amazing, we worked so hard for this and to win it is just an amazing feeling.”

Sweden took an early lead, scoring within the opening minute of the first frame, and Canada was down by two when Sasha Mutala (Vancouver/Tri-City, WHL) recorded his first of two goals in the game to cut the lead in half. Kirby Dach (Fort Saskatchewan, Alta./Saskatoon, WHL) evened the score before Lafrenière had the fans on their feet, scoring the eventual game-winner to close out the first period. Josh Williams (Langley, B.C./Medicine Hat, WHL) potted Canada’s fifth goal in the third period, followed by a powerplay closer by Lafrenière, to round out the scoring.

“Our guys were so focused today and so well-prepared. They were real pros in the way they prepared themselves after the game. “We never felt we were in trouble. We knew we were down by two against a really good team, but at the same time we knew what we could do. The guys stuck with it and they showed a lot of character.”

Head Coach André Tourigny (Nicolet, Que./Ottawa, OHL)

Canada has won gold 22 times in 28 years of summer under-18 competition.

Earlier in the day, Vasili Podkolzin finished his hat trick as part of a seven-goal third period, and Russia held off the United States to earn a 5-4 win and the bronze medal at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

Hlinka Gretzky Cup closes to positive reviews

Newly rebranded as the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, the annual tournament is one of the only true, best-on-best competitions in international men’s hockey and it was hosted on Canadian ice under a new partnership struck between Hockey Canada, the Czech Ice Hockey Association, and the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation that will see it return to Alberta in 2020 and 2022.

With 18 tournament games in Edmonton and Red Deer, as well as four pre-tournament games hosted in the surrounding communities of Lacombe, Penhold, and Sylvan Lake, it is estimated that just over 40,000 hockey fans, scouts, and media took in the action over the course of the week.

“This was a building year, for sure, for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup here in Canada, and when you think about the fan experience – there was a tremendous amount of talent on display, and some really exciting hockey to watch – coupled with the experience that these cities were able to provide as hosts to the eight participating teams and the nearly 300 NHL scouts who attended, it’s been a success,” said Tom Renney, chief executive officer at Hockey Canada. “Our ultimate goal is to provide a great platform and environment for players to compete, and Canadian fans have shown once again their knowledge of the game by supporting a great event that is new on the Canadian hockey calendar.”

“We definitely saw the attendance grow as the tournament progressed, and huge fan support for Team Canada. And thanks to our partnership with TSN and RDS, we were able to showcase these tremendous athletes across the country as well. There are always elements you find to improve on, because we want to continue to raise the bar in how this event is delivered, but the work done in partnership with Oilers Entertainment Group and the Red Deer Rebels, as well as the cities of Edmonton and Red Deer and the province of Alberta, has given us a great foundation to build from,” said Renney.

U.S. concludes Hlinka Gretzky Cup with loss to Russia

The United States Under-18 Men’s Select Team fell to Russia 5-4 in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup third-place game Saturday afternoon at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta.Trailing 2-0 early in the third period, Team USA captain John Farinacci (Chatham, N.J.) provided a spark with a power-play goal at 3:27, his second goal of the tournament, but Russia answered with its second power-play goal of the game two minutes later.Undeterred, the U.S. again pulled to within one goal at 13:53 when Arthur Kaliyev (Delray Beach, Fla.) scored on the power play to make it 3-2, but again the Russians responded, scoring 22 seconds later to re-establish a two-goal lead.U.S. forward Nicholas Robertson (Northville, Mich.) scored his team-leading fourth goal of the tournament, also on the power play, to cut the margin to 4-3 with 2:32 remaining in the game, but Russia answered less than a minute later to make it 5-3.Again the U.S. shaved the lead to a single goal, with Josh Nodler (Oak Park, Mich.) sweeping a shot off the post and in with 18 seconds remaining to make it 5-4, but time eventually ran out on Team USA.

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