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What is the Hlinka Gretzky Cup?

Take a trip down memory lane and learn more about the 2024 edition of the annual summer U18 tournament before it returns to Edmonton

Jonathan Yue
|
March 25, 2024

The world’s top under-18 players are set to hit the ice and represent their country at the 2024 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, Aug. 5-10 at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

An annual invitation-only tournament that is the only best-on-best competition at the U18 level, the Hlinka Gretzky Cup serves as the first opportunity for fans and scouts to see that year’s NHL Draft prospects, almost a full year before the draft takes place. This year, it’s the Class of 2025 that has its chance to showcase its skill on the international stage.

At the 2023 NHL Draft, 30% of the players who heard their names called (67 of 224) played at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, including 19 who helped Canada defend its gold medal at the 2022 tournament in Red Deer, Alberta.

The alumni list in Nashville – led by No. 2 pick Leo Carlsson (Anaheim), who helped Sweden to bronze in 2021 – included 20 first-round selections and representation from nine countries in all.

In the past, the tournament has included a who’s-who of Canadian hockey – names like Kariya (1991), Iginla (1994), Thornton (1996), Crosby (2003), Price (2004), Stamkos (2007), MacKinnon (2012), Ekblad (2013) and Lafrenière (2018), to name only a few.

Internationally, alumni include the likes of Alexander Ovechkin (RUS, 2002), Gabriel Landeskog (SWE, 2009), Tomas Plekanec (CZE, 1999), Andre Burakovsky (SWE, 2011-12), Teuvo Teravainen (FIN, 2011), Kirill Kaprizov (RUS, 2014), Mikko Rantanen (FIN, 2013), Johnny Gaudreau (USA, 2010) and a host of others.

The event has been held under a number of different names since the first summer under-18 tournament in 1991 – the Phoenix Cup – in Yokohama and Sapporo, Japan.

It was played for three years in Japan, went to Mexico City in 1994, back to Japan in 1995 and to Nelson and Castlegar, B.C., in 1996 before settling into the Czech Republic and Slovakia beginning in 1997. It alternated between the countries from 1997-2001 before the neighbours co-hosted from 2002-17.

The tournament was known as the Junior World Cup before it was renamed in honour of Ivan Hlinka following the tragic passing of the Czech hockey legend in a car accident in 2004. Hlinka won three IIHF World Championship gold medals as a player before leading the country to Olympic gold as head coach in 1998, among his many accomplishments and accolades.

When the tournament returned to Canada in 2018 (in Edmonton and Red Deer), it was rechristened the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, honouring Hlinka and The Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky.

Entering this year’s tournament as the reigning champions, Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team has long been the dominant force in summer U18 hockey, laying claim to 24 of the 32 gold medals awarded since 1991, including runs of seven (1996-2002) and eight (2008-15) consecutive golds.

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
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Vernon, BC
Date: Apr 21 to 27
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Membertou, NS
Date: Apr 22 to 28
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Espoo & Vantaa, Finland
Date: Apr 25 to May 5
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Calgary, AB, Canada
Date: May 5 to 12
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Oakville, ON
Date: May 9 to 19
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Prague & Ostrava, Czechia
Date: May 10 to 26