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Hlinka Gretzky Cup Recap: Finland 3, Czechia 1

Vinni had 21 saves to help Finland to a win over Czechia and the bronze medal in Red Deer

Ryan Ohashi
|
August 06, 2022
RED DEER, Alta. – Eemil Vinni made 21 saves to earn Player of the Game and lift Finland to 3-1 win over Czechia in the bronze medal game Saturday afternoon at the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

The Finns opened the scoring late in the first period as top prospect Aron Kiviharju scored his first of the tournament, beating Czechia’s Michael Hrabal to the blocker side from the right face-off dot. Kiviharju finished the tournament with six points (1-5—6).

But Czechia pushed back to tie the game with 25 seconds left in the period as Eduard Sale beat Vinni past the glove from the top of the slot to notch his fourth goal and sixth point of the tournament.

At 13:29 in the second period, Arrtu Alasiurua tapped home a puck that sat between the feet of a Czech defender off a nice play from Kasper Halttunen to give Finland a 2-1 lead.

Hrabal finished with another strong performance. The six-foot-six Czech goaltender made 22 saves and ended the tournament with a .917 save percentage across four starts. The Finns wrapped up the bronze medal with a shutdown third period, adding an empty-net goal by Jesse Kiiskinen to cap the scoring.

The medal is the first for Finland since 2012 when it claimed silver.

Team Canada player in front of a Swiss goaltender.

Schedule announced for 2024 Hlinka Gretzky Cup

Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team opens against Switzerland; ticket packages now on sale

NR.017.24
|
March 22, 2024

CALGARY, Alberta – Hockey Canada has announced the 18-game schedule for the 2024 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, Aug. 5-10 at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

The prestigious international tournament is a partnership with Hockey Alberta, the Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG), the City of Edmonton, Explore Edmonton and the Government of Alberta, showcasing some of the best under-18 players in the world.

“We are extremely excited to bring the Hlinka Gretzky Cup back to Edmonton for the first time in six years, giving fans the opportunity to cheer on the future stars of the NHL,” said Dean McIntosh, senior vice-president of revenue, fan experience and community impact. “This international showcase would not be possible without the support and investment of our event partners and we anticipate an incredible week of hockey in August.”

Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team will be looking for a third-consecutive gold medal, and a record-extending 25th summer U18 gold since 1992. Canada will be joined by Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland in Group A, while Group B is made up of Czechia, Finland, Germany and the United States.

The tournament begins Aug. 5 at 12 p.m. MT with a matchup between Slovakia and Sweden. Canada will close out opening-day action against Switzerland at 7:30 p.m. MT, before facing Slovakia on Aug. 6 and Sweden on Aug. 7 to close out preliminary-round play.

The semifinals are set for Aug. 9, with the bronze medal and gold medal games to follow on Aug. 10 at 1:30 p.m. MT and 6 p.m. MT, respectively.

TSN and RDS, the official broadcast partners of Hockey Canada, will provide full tournament coverage. 

Ticket packages are now on sale starting at $175. Fans can secure their seats for the 2024 Hlinka Gretzky Cup by visiting HockeyCanada.ca/Tickets.

Hockey Canada is also inviting hockey fans to join the volunteer team. With 125 positions available for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, individuals can apply online by clicking HERE.

For more information on the 2024 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, please visit HlinkaGretzkyCup.ca or follow through social media on Facebook, X and Instagram.

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Canada wins gold at 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup

3-2 overtime win over Czechia gives Canada its 24th gold medal in summer under-18 competition

NR.051.23
|
August 05, 2023

BRECLAV, Czechia – Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team has successfully defended its gold medal at the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, downing co-host Czechia 3-2 in an overtime thriller at Fosfa Arena on Saturday.

Malcolm Spence (Mississauga, ON/Erie, OHL), was the overtime hero, stealing the puck off a Czech defender and scoring the golden goal in the dying seconds of overtime to earn Player of the Game honours. The win gives Canada its 24th gold medal and 28th overall medal in men’s summer under-18 play since 1991.

“I knew it was late in overtime and I knew [the Czechs] were tired because they were keeping a fast pace in overtime. I knew the [Czech defender] was on for quite a bit of time and that I could pick his pocket if I moved my feet, so that is what I did,” Spence said. “This is the best moment of my life and nothing will ever beat this. I cannot thank everyone who was involved with this team enough. I am just so happy.”

Cayden Lindstrom (Chetwynd, BC/Medicine Hat, WHL) kick-started the offence for Canada in the second period after falling behind just over eight minutes into the game, scoring off a lead pass from Porter Martone (Peterborough, ON/Mississauga, OHL) to even the score 57 seconds into the middle frame.

Captain Berkly Catton (Saskatoon, SK/Spokane, WHL), who scored in every game of the tournament, gave Canada the lead midway through the second period, jamming the puck past Czech goaltender Jakub Milota on the power play for his tournament-leading eighth goal and 10th point. Matej Kubiesa evened the score for Czechia with less than five minutes remaining in the third to send the game to overtime.

“[The gold medal game] was an unbelievable experience, and the crowd was unbelievable. Every period was a challenge for us, but we came out and we got the victory. I am so proud of each and every one of our guys,” Catton said. “It is awesome that we ended up with the gold, but none of this would have been possible without my teammates. The whole tournament was such a great experience.”

Carter George (Thunder Bay, ON/Owen Sound, OHL) turned in an exceptional performance, making 31 saves to record his fourth win in as many starts.

A full game summary can be found at HlinkaGretzkyCup.ca.

“I think our guys handled adversity very well. We spoke for a few minutes before the game about expectations, and we knew what kind of crowd it was going to be. It was great for our kids to go out and experience that, and they stepped up when they needed to,” said head coach Alan Letang (Renfrew, ON/Sarnia, OHL). “I am proud of everyone. Our kids got better every day and that was our goal as the tournament went on. It has been a fun ride, but I am looking forward to a little bit of rest now.”

Canada finished the preliminary round in first place in Group B after a loss to Finland (9-6) and wins over Slovakia (14-4) and Switzerland (5-0). It earned its spot in the gold medal game with a 7-2 win over the United States in the semifinals.

Since 1991, Canada has collected 24 gold medals at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, to go along with three silver and one bronze.

For more information on Hockey Canada and Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow through social media on Facebook, X and Instagram.

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Hlinka Gretzky Preview: Canada vs. Czechia

Saturday, August 5 | 11 a.m. ET | Breclav, Czechia | Gold Medal Game

Jonathan Yue
|
August 05, 2023

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.

Last Game

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.

Last Meeting

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

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Hlinka Gretzky Preview: Canada vs. United States

Friday, August 4 | 1 p.m. ET | Trencin, Slovakia | Semifinal

Jonathan Yue
|
August 04, 2023

Riding the momentum of back-to-back wins to claim top spot in Group B, Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team takes on the United States on Friday for a spot in the gold medal game at the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

Last Game

Canada is coming off a crucial 5-0 victory over Switzerland on Wednesday to catapult itself into the semifinals. Berkly Catton scored twice and Cole Beaudoin added a goal and an assist, while Ryder Ritchie and Michael Misa tallied a pair of helpers apiece to lead Canada to the victory. Carter George won his second-straight start in the Canadian crease, recording the 12-save shutout.

The U.S. closed its preliminary round Wednesday with an 8-1 win over Germany . Trevor Connelly scored a hat trick and Will Zellers added a pair of goals as the Americans rode a four-goal first period – and 43 shots on goal – to the victory.

Last Meeting

The North American rivals last met in the semifinals of the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, a thrilling 6-5 overtime victory for Canada . Dylan Cozens tied the game with a buzzer-beater before Josh Williams scored his second of the game 1:44 into the extra frame. Alexis Lafrenière and Xavier Parent finished with a goal and an assist each.

What to Watch

Ever since the Canadian coaching staff shuffled the lines following a tournament-opening loss to Finland, Ryder Ritchie and Michael Misa have been on a tear. With eight points apiece to share the scoring lead with Finland’s Tuomas Suoniemi, the duo have been all over the scoresheet. In the last two games, both Canadian wins, Ritchie has three goals four assists, while Misa has contributed two goals and six helpers.

For the Americans, the offence has come through Connelly, who has three goals and four assists to leave him even with Catton for fourth in tournament scoring. The Tustin, CA native has committed to Providence College for the 2025-26 season, following a season where he scored 47 points (24-23—47) in 57 games with the Tri-City Storm of the USHL.

A Look Back

The neighbours have met 19 times at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, with Canada holding a 12-4-3 (W-L-T) advantage.

Canada is riding a six-game win streak dating back to 2003, and has outscored the U.S. 29-10, including four shutouts in a row between 2004 and 2013. In the 2014 semifinals, three-point performances from Dylan Strome (3-0—3), Jansen Harkins (1-2—3) and Mitchell Stephens (1-2—3) led Canada to an 11-5 victory en route to a gold medal in Breclav.

All-time record: Canada leads 12-4-3

Canada goals: 78

United States goals: 44

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Fast friends: Misa and Spence ascending the hockey ranks together

From the GTHL to going back-to-back in the OHL draft, the Hlinka teammates' friendship off the ice is helping them succeed on it

Jonathan Yue
|
August 03, 2023

For former Mississauga Senators teammates Malcolm Spence and Michael Misa, it was their first interaction four years ago off the ice that kick-started a long-lasting friendship.

“Misa was the one who really welcomed me to the Senators,” recalls Spence. “I broke my wrist in [U11] and he was the one who made me feel welcomed and introduced me to the Sens after I came over from Burlington. Right away, we clicked and we became really close.”

Misa and Spence first met as members of the Senators in 2019 and over the next three seasons with the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) club they became close friends not just on the ice, but also off it, bonding over other things like Sunday Night Football.

“Malcolm came in with a great attitude and he’s a great person to be around, so we connected real quick,” says Misa. “He’s become like a brother to me.”

As Misa and Spence's friendship grew, so did their competitiveness, often pushing each other to be better on and off the ice and building off their successes — something that continues to this day.

“The competition is definitely always there between us. He pushes me and I push him,” says Spence.

That competitiveness was evident during the 2021-22 season with the Sens, which happened to be their last. The two finished second and third on the team in scoring — Spence had 56 points and Misa had 43. The pair also helped Mississauga capture the 2022 OHL Cup, its first since 1993. As a 15-year-old, Misa led the tournament with 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists), while Spence was right behind with 13 (six goals, seven assists).

During the 2022-23 season, the friends found themselves playing against each other for the first time after they were drafted 1-2 in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection. Misa, a 2007-born forward who granted exceptional status to enter the OHL draft, went No. 1 to the Saginaw Spirit while Spence landed with the Erie Otters.

“On the ice, it’s always competitive. But, once we’re off the ice, we’re friends again and we understand that as players,” says Misa.

“It’s all fun and games as friends, but when we play against each other, it’s serious,” adds Spence.

Reunited again

Last month, Spence and Misa learned they would be together again for the first time since their days in Mississauga after they were named to Canada's National Men's Summer Under-18 Team for the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup — something they're both happy about.

“I’m definitely enjoying it right now, seeing his jersey on my team again, making great plays, I’m super happy for that,” says Spence.

“We’ve always had a tight bond so its always nice to have someone that I can talk to [on the team],” Misa adds.

Going for gold

Misa and Spence know what it’s like to represent the Maple Leaf against international competition, having done so at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Langley and Delta, BC last fall. Spence was a member of Canada Black while Misa represented Canada Red.

“The international competition is always some of the best,” Misa adds. “We have to be ready for each game because everyone brings their best game to the Hlinka Gretzky.”

As the two continue to develop and prepare for their futures, Misa and Spence know they have lots of work to do to eventually make it to the NHL. But for now, the pair, who are both draft eligible in 2025, are focused on the task at hand — winning gold.

“It would be huge to be able to bring that success home,” Spence says. “We’re taking it day by day, we’re going to bring as much of our success in and continue to build on it. For myself, I hope to just get better every day. If I can do that, everything else will take care of itself.”

“We came here to win the gold medal so everyone on the team is striving to get that goal,” echoes Misa. “The next level is even harder so I just want to bring everything I can this summer and learn everything and keep improving.”

Wherever their talents take them, both Misa and Spence say they will continue to support each other wherever they end up.

“We built chemistry off the ice and it transitioned off it. Me and Michael have a lot of that chemistry, so whenever we play together, it led to special moments, so I’ll forever cherish those,” Spence says. “He’s one of my best friends and I can’t thank him enough.”

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Hlinka Gretzky Cup Preview: Canada vs. Switzerland

Wednesday, August 2 | 9:30 a.m. ET | Trencin, Slovakia | Preliminary Round

Jonathan Yue
|
August 02, 2023

Fresh off a convincing win over Slovakia, Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team faces off against Switzerland on Wednesday to close out its preliminary round schedule at the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

Last Game

Canada earned its first win at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup on Tuesday, a 14-4 victory over the co-host Slovakia . Ryder Ritchie had three goals and two assists and Michael Misa added two goals and four helpers as Canada evened its record to 1-1 in Trencin.

Switzerland is coming off a 3-1 victory over Finland on Tuesday, improving its record to 2-0. David Bosson scored the eventual winner late in the second period, Yannik Ponzetto and Nils Wehrli added goals and Phileas Lachat made nine saves for the Swiss, who outshot the Finns 15-10 in a defensive struggle.

Last Meeting

Canada and Switzerland faced off in the prelim opener a year ago in Red Deer, a dominant 14-0 victory for Canada . Calum Ritchie (1-3—4) and Cameron Allen (0-4—4) led the way offensively as Canada rode an eight-goal first period to the win, finishing with four goals on the power play and three shorthanded.

What to Watch

Berkly Catton continues to put up points on the international stage. The Canadian captain has five points (3-2—5) in two games in Trencin, tallied 12 points in seven games at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge last November (earning a place on the tournament all-star team), and added four points to help Canada to the bronze medal at the IIHF U18 World Championship in April. The offensive exploits are nothing new for the Saskatoon, SK native, who led all 16-year-olds in scoring in the WHL last season (23-32—55 in 63 games).

The Swiss have spread out their scoring through two games, getting goals from eight different players in wins over Slovakia and Finland. The line of Ponzetto, Jamiro Reber and Jordan Forget have led the way, tallying three points each to account for a third of the Swiss goals scored. Reber is one of four Swiss skaters who played as underagers at the 2023 IIHF U18 World Championship on home ice, along with Christian Kirsch, Leon Muggli and Daniil Ustinkov.

A Look Back

Canada and Switzerland have met 18 times at this tournament, with the Canadians winning the last 17 after the Swiss won the first meeting back in 2001.

Last year’s double digit win was Canada’s second against the Swiss – the previous time was a 10-0 win in 2018 . Peyton Krebs (2-1—3) and Matthew Robertson (1-2—3) led the way with three points each as nine different Canadians found the back of the net.

All-time record: Canada leads 17-1 (1-0 in OT/SO)

Canada goals: 111

Switzerland goals: 36

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Hlinka Gretzky Cup Preview: Canada vs. Slovakia

Tuesday, August 1 | 1 p.m. ET | Trencin, Slovakia | Preliminary Round

Jonathan Yue
|
August 01, 2023

Coming off a loss in its tournament opener, Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team looks to bounce back when it faces off against co-host Slovakia on Tuesday at the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

Last Game

Canada will need to have a short memory after dropping a 9-6 decision to Finland in its tournament opener in Trencin. Berkly Catton recorded a goal and two assists to lead the offence, while 14 of the 20 Canadian skaters put their names on the scoresheet.

Slovakia is coming off of a loss of its own, falling 6-3 to Switzerland on Monday to open its tournament. Samuel Kupec, Tomas Slank, and Ján Chovan were the goal scorers for Slovakia, while outshooting the Swiss 25-11 in a losing effort.

Last Meeting

The teams last met a year ago in Red Deer, a 9-1 victory for Canada . Brayden Yager opened the scoring at 5:15 of the first period, finishing the night with two goals and two assists. Tanner Molendyk and Zachary Benson recorded a goal and two assists each, while Carson Bjarnason turned aside 19 shots for the win.

What to Watch

Size will take centre stage as Slovakia (6-foot-1) and Canada (6-foot-0) rank one-two in the tournament in average height. But don’t overlook Justin Poirier. The 5-foot-6 forward from Valleyfield, QC scored in both of Canada’s pre-tournament games before finding the back of the net against the Finns. Poirier is no stranger to scoring goals; his 28 last season were second among all QMJHL rookies, one back of Team Canada teammate Maxim Massé.

The Slovaks have a diminutive forward of their own, with 5-foot-8 Theo Kiss driving the offence for the co-hosts. Kiss was the lone goal scorer in Slovakia’s pre-tournament 4-1 loss to the United States, and had an assist in the loss to the Swiss. The Kosice native, who has already committed to the University of Massachusetts for the 2025-26 season, recorded 74 points (32-42—74) in 56 games with the 16U team at Mount St. Charles Academy last season.

A Look Back

Canada and Slovakia have met 18 times at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, with Canada owning an undefeated record while outscoring the Slovaks 104-30.

Last year’s eight-goal win matched the second-biggest margin of victory – the Canadians also posted 9-1 triumphs in 2002 and 2008 (Brayden Schenn had a goal and two assists, and Ryan Ellis had four helpers), and were 12-2 victors in 2000.

All-time record: Canada leads 18-0 (1-0 in OT/SO)

Canada goals: 104

Slovakia goals: 30

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Hlinka Gretzky Cup Preview: Canada vs. Finland

Monday, July 31 | 9:30 a.m. ET | Trencin, Slovakia | Preliminary Round

Jonathan Yue
|
July 31, 2023

Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team kicks off defence of its gold medal at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup when it takes on Finland in its preliminary-round opener on Monday in Trencin.

Last Game

The Canadians concluded its two-game pre-tournament schedule with a 5-0 win over Czechia on Saturday. Malcolm Spence led the way with two assists, while Carson Wetsch, Porter Martone, Ryder Ritchie, Michael Misa and Justin Poirier were the goal scorers for Canada. Gabriel D’Aigle and Carter George stopped all 30 shots they faced for the shared shutout.

The Finns didn’t play a pre-tournament game against international competition; they dropped a 4-3 decision to a U20 select team on Wednesday. In its last competitive game, Finland fell 3-2 to Slovakia in the quarterfinals at the 2023 IIHF U18 World Championship in April. Kasper Halttunen and Emil Jarventie scored the goals for the Finns, who outshot the Slovaks 56-16.

Last Meeting

Canada and Finland last met in the semifinals a year ago in Red Deer, where the Canadians defeated the Finns 4-1 . Ten different Canadians found the scoresheet, with Ethan Gauthier, Calum Ritchie, Matthew Wood and Denver Barkey scoring goals, while Scott Ratzlaff turned aside 23 of 24 shots in goal.

What to Watch

Canada has three players who won bronze as underagers at the 2023 U18 World Championship in the spring – Berkly Catton and and Porter Martone combined for four goals and 10 points in seven games, and Gabriel D’Aigle made 29 saves in his lone start in the bronze medal game. But there’s plenty of international experience in the lineup; 19 players wore the Maple Leaf at the 2022 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Langley and Delta, BC, including seven (Catton, Cristoforo, D’Aigle, Danford, Martone, Misa, Wetsch) who reached the gold medal game with Canada Red.

Like the Canadians, Finland has three players who gained valuable experience at U18 Worlds – defencemen Mitja Jokinen, Niilopekka Muhonen and Veeti Vaisanen – and 17 who won U17 bronze in the Lower Mainland last year. But it’s the absence of two other 2006-born standouts that could make a difference for the Finns; Konsta Helenius and Aaron Kiviharju are both expected to be top-10 picks in the 2024 NHL Draft, but neither will be on the ice in Trencin.

A Look Back

Canada has yet to lose to Finland at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, winning nine out of the 10 games (with one tie) .

Only once have the long-time international rivals met for summer U18 gold; in 2012, Nathan MacKinnon scored a hat trick, Curtis Lazar added a goal and Zach Fucale made 23 saves as Canada clinched its fifth straight tournament title with a 4-0 win .

All-time record: Canada leads 9-0-1

Canada goals: 40

Finland goals: 12

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24 players named to Canada's National Men's Summer Under-18 Team for 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup

Team Canada looks to defend gold in Trencin and Breclav

NR.048.23
|
July 12, 2023

CALGARY, AB – Twenty-four players have been selected to Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team as it looks to defend gold at the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, July 31–Aug. 5 in Trencin, Slovakia and Breclav, Czechia.

Three goaltenders, seven defence and 14 forwards—representing seven Members—were selected by Alan Millar (Tottenham, ON), director of player personnel, and Cam Russell (Cole Harbour, NS/Halifax, QMJHL), the U18 lead for the Program of Excellence management group, with support from Scott Salmond (Creston, BC), senior vice-president of hockey operations, Benoit Roy (Sudbury, ON), senior manager of hockey operations, and Byron Bonora (Brooks, AB), manager of hockey operations and U17 head scout. Head coach Alan Letang (Renfrew, ON/Sarnia, OHL), and assistant coaches Kris Mallette (Kelowna, BC/Kelowna, WHL) and Sylvain Favreau (Orleans, ON/Drummondville, QMJHL) also provided input.

Among the 24 players are two who won a bronze medal with Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team at the 2023 IIHF U18 World Championship (Catton, D’Aigle) and 20 that suited up for Team Canada Black, Team Canada Red and Team Canada White at the 2022 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

“We are excited to unveil this group of accomplished athletes that have earned the opportunity to represent Canada and defend our gold medal at this year’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup,” Millar said. “Earning a spot to represent your country is an exciting opportunity, and we know each athlete will embrace the opportunity to wear the Maple Leaf in Slovakia and Czechia later this month.”

Prior to the start of the tournament, the team will practice at the Ice Palace in Budapest, Hungary from July 23-27, and will face off against Hungary’s national under-20 team on July 27 at 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. It will also take on Czechia on July 29 at 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT at Fosfa Arena in Breclav as a part of its pre-tournament schedule.

Canada will open the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup against Finland on July 31 at 9:30 a.m. ET/6:30 a.m. PT. It will also face co-host Slovakia and Switzerland in the preliminary round before the tournament concludes with the medal games on Aug. 5.

TSN and RDS, the official broadcast partners of Hockey Canada, will broadcast all Team Canada games and select elimination and medal games; please check local listings for more details.

Canada has won 23 gold medals in 31 years of summer under-18 competition, along with three silver medals and one bronze.

For more information on Hockey Canada and Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along via social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Alan Letang, Kris Mallette, Sylvain Favreau and Justin Pogge beside a red Maple Leaf.

Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team staff named for 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup

Alan Letang to serve as head coach; Kris Mallette, Sylvain Favreau named assistants

NR.046.23
|
July 05, 2023

CALGARY, AB – Hockey Canada has named the coaching and support staffs that will lead Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team in defence of its gold medal at the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, July 31-Aug. 5 in Trencin, Slovakia and Breclav, Czechia.

After helping lead Canada to gold medals on home ice at the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship as an assistant coach, Alan Letang (Renfrew, ON/Sarnia, OHL) returns to Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team to take the reins as head coach. Kris Mallette (Kelowna, BC/Kelowna, WHL) makes his return to the bench for the second-straight year as an assistant coach, joined by fellow assistant Sylvain Favreau (Orleans, ON/Drummondville, QMJHL), goaltending consultant Justin Pogge (Penticton, BC) and video coach James Emery (Calgary, AB).

The coaching staff was selected by Alan Millar (Tottenham, ON), director of player personnel, Cam Russell (Cole Harbour, NS/Halifax, QMJHL), the U18 lead for the Program of Excellence management group, and Scott Salmond (Creston, BC), senior vice-president of hockey operations.

“We are excited to unveil the coaching and support staff that will lead our National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team in its defence of our gold medal at this year’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup,” Millar said. “Alan, Kris, Sylvain, Justin and James bring extensive experience both at the international and Canadian Hockey League level, and we know this group of coaches will provide valuable leadership to our team while wearing the Maple Leaf with pride next month.”

Letang most recently won a gold medal at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship as an assistant coach, and was an assistant with Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team when it won gold at the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He also won a gold medal as an assistant with Canada’s National Junior Team at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship. Letang recently completed his second season (2021-23) as head coach of the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), and previously spent five seasons with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack as an assistant coach (2016-19) and head coach (2019-20).

Favreau was recently named the head coach of the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) after serving as head coach (2021-23) and assistant coach (2017-21) of the Halifax Mooseheads for the past six years. This season, he led the Mooseheads to the QMJHL final after finishing the regular season atop the Maritimes Division. Prior to making the jump to the QMJHL, he served as both an assistant (2009-11) and head coach (2011-15) of the Gloucester Rangers of the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL), and was the head coach and director of hockey operations for the CCHL’s Cumberland Grads for two seasons (2015-17). Favreau was also a guest coach at the national under-17 development camp in 2017.

Mallette served as an assistant coach with Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team at the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, winning a gold medal. He was also named an assistant coach of Team Canada Black for the 2020 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, which was cancelled due to COVID-19, and was the head coach of Team Canada Red at the 2021 Capital City Challenge. Mallette has served as head coach of the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League (WHL) for the past four seasons (2020-23) after serving six seasons (2014-20) as an assistant, during which he won a WHL championship and helped the Rockets reach the Memorial Cup final in 2015.

The support staff that will work with Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team at the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup includes:

  • Athletic therapists Kevin Elliott (Charlottetown, PE) and Marie-Pierre Néron (Rockland, ON/Ottawa, OHL)
  • Team physician Dr. R.J. MacKenzie (Albert Bridge, NS/Cape Breton, LHJMQ)
  • Equipment manager Clayton Johns (Toronto, ON/Portland, WHL)
  • Senior manager of hockey operations Benoit Roy (Sudbury, ON)
  • Manager of hockey operations and U17 head scout Byron Bonora (Brooks, AB)
  • Manager of hockey operations Kurt Keats (Winnipeg, MB)

Prior to the start of the tournament, the team will practice at the Ice Palace in Budapest, Hungary from July 23-27, and will face off against Hungary’s national under-20 team on July 27. It will also take on Czechia on July 29 at 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT at Fosfa Arena in Breclav as part of its pre-tournament schedule.

Canada will open the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup against Finland on July 31 at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT. It will also take on co-host Slovakia and Switzerland in the preliminary round before the tournament concludes with the medal games on Aug. 5.

For more information on Hockey Canada and Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along via social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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Schedule
HC Logo
Oakville, ON
Date: May 9 to 19
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Prague & Ostrava, Czechia
Date: May 10 to 26
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Edmonton, Alta., Canada
Date: Aug 3 to 10