In a rematch of the 2017 final, Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team travels to Breclav to take on co-host Czechia in the gold medal game Saturday at the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Canada took care of business against the United States in its semifinal, defeating its North American neighbours 7-2. Berkly Catton tallied two more goals (he has a tournament-leading seven) and added an assist, Maxim Massé scored twice and Carter George turned aside 22 shots as the Canadians scored six unanswered goals over the final 40 minutes.
Czechia is coming off an 8-2 semifinal win over Finland. Adam Benák finished with a goal and two assists, Adam Titlbach scored twice and the Czechs scored four times in less than seven minutes in the back half of the second period to pull away and book a place in the final in front of their home crowd.
Canada blanked the Czechs 5-0 in pre-tournament action in Breclav last Saturday. Carson Wetsch, Porter Martone, Ryder Ritchie, Michael Misa and Justin Poirier found the back of the net, while Gabriel D’Aigle (22 saves) and Carter George (eight saves) combined for the shutout.
What to Watch
A good place for the Czechs to start with their game plan? Stay out of the penalty box. Canada has been deadly on the power play through four games, scoring seven times on 17 opportunities for a tournament-leading 41.2% success rate. Not surprisingly, the top two Canadian goal scorers are leading the way with the man advantage – Catton (seven goals) and Maxim Massé (five) have two power-plays goals apiece.
A pair of Adams are leading the way for the Czechs – Adam Benak has two goals and six assists, followed by Adam Titlbach with four and three. And let’s not forget about home-ice advantage. Crowds at Fosfa Arena have grown for every Czech game, highlighted by more than 3,800 fans at the semifinal against the Finns. A Saturday night with gold on the line against the defending champs? It should be a terrific atmosphere.
A Look Back
Canada holds a big advantage in the head-to-head matchup, winning 19 out of 23 meetings (with two ties).
Canada has won the last 13 against Czechia, dating back to 2003, outscoring the Czechs 69-16 during that stretch. In the 2017 gold medal game, Jack McBain finished with a goal and two assists, and Noah Dobson and Akil Thomas added two helpers apiece as Canada downed the Czechs 4-1 to claim its 21st gold medal.
All-time record: Canada leads 19-2-2
Canada goals: 106
Czechia goals: 43