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Canada looking to extend gold streak to seven straight years

By on August 6, 2014 in Ivan Hlinka Memorial with 0 Comments

By Radoslav Vavřina, Lead Writer, The Czech List

Canada is the most successful country in the history of the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup. Since its first year in 1991, it has won gold eighteen times and only twice it failed to gain any of the three medals. Taking the tournament as seriously as possible, even more than the official Under-18 World Juniors, has also helped the cradle of hockey reach gold in all of the six last seasons.

This year, Piešťany, Slovakia, will be the home of Team Canada and they will meet Sweden and Switzerland in the group stage, just like last year. In addition to that, the hosts from Slovakia will represent one of the obstacles in the preliminary round. The Canadians will also play at least one game west of the border, a pre-tournament outing with the Czechs.

As expected, Team Canada will be as strong as possible at the upcoming tourney and so will be its goaltending tandem. Montréal native Callum Booth is supposed to be the game-changer in goal as he’s got a lot of experience with the QMJHL from his last season, playing for the Quebec Remparts. Also, he has a British passport in addition to his Canadian one. Backing him up will be Calgary native Zachary Sawchenko who is also a full-time major junior goalie, with Moose Jaw of the WHL, but his stats aren’t nearly as impressive.

The defensive corps will be led by a duo of defensemen that are almost as different from each other as possible. Focusing on the dirty work in front of the Canadian net will be Matthew Spencer, a Peterborough Pete who is ranked highest of all Team Canada blueliners for the upcoming draft. He plays solid defense and can sure hit a man. Jérémy Roy is the other cornerstone of the defense, a versatile D-man from La Belle Province who will be focusing on helping up the forwards, but can also help out in his own end.

The roster may look amazingly strong, but it could have been worse for whoever faces Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament. Number-one-ranked prospect for the upcoming draft Connor McDavid won’t travel to Central Europe for the event and that way they lose a presence of a future NHL franchise player who has already been great at both Under-20 and Under-18 WJCs. Also missing will be Dutch-born right winger Daniel Sprong and Newfoundland native Nathan Noel.

With McDavid out, Canada will have to rely on other offensive talent to show up and carry the load. Travis Konecny should be one of those and his Czech/Slovak name just suits the entire situation. Playing for Ottawa, he is a skilled forward that knows how to score and he did that four times in seven games of the Under-18 World Juniors in April in Finland. Seattle Thunderbird Mathew Barzal and younger brother of New York Islanders’ Ryan Strome, Dylan Strome, will be important assets for Team Canada as well.

It will also be interesting to see how Metro Vancouver native with dual, Canadian and Czech citizenship Adam Musil will fare at the tournament. He comes from a prominent Czech hockey family and he even spent much of his childhood in the town of Jihlava, in the heart of the region that Czech president Miloš Zeman comes from. And it’s not even that far from Břeclav.

Canada will first appear on Czech soil Saturday evening, squaring off against the Czechs before heading over the border and into Slovakia for the group stage. Switzerland, Sweden and Slovakia will be the challengers of the defending champion in the preliminary round.



Callum Booth (Quebec)

Zachary Sawchenko (Moose Jaw)


Ethan Bear (Seattle)

Guillaume Brisebois (Acadie-Bathurst)

Connor Hobbs (Medicine Hat)

Nicolas Meloche (Baie-Comeau)

Jérémy Roy (Sherbrooke)

Matthew Spencer (Peterborough)

Mitchell Vande Sompel (Oshawa)


Mathew Barzal (Seattle)

Anthony Beauvillier (Shawinigan)

Lawson Crouse (Kingston)

Jansen Harkins (Prince George)

Graham Knott (Niagara)

Travis Konecny (Ottawa)

Mitchell Marner (London)

Nick Merkley (Kelowna)

Adam Musil (Red Deer)

Nicolas Roy (Chicoutimi)

Tyler Soy (Victoria)

Mitchell Stephens (Saginaw)

Dylan Strome (Erie)

Photo courtesy of Eva Solaříková

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