Canada blanks U.S. 4-0 in Ivan Hlinka final
Canada won the 2013 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka on Saturday by blanking the United States 4-0 on Saturday in the gold medal game in Piestany, Slovakia, giving the Canadians their sixth consecutive gold medal in the Under-18 tournament.
Michael Dal Colle, Jayce Hawryluk, Aaron Ekblad and Brendan Lemieux scored for Canada, which dominated play for most of the game. Goaltender Julio Billia stopped all 20 shots he faced and got plenty of help from his teammates, who stifled the U.S. attack. His best save came early in the second period, when he stopped Ryan Wagner's wrister after a turnover.
"We wanted to keep the tradition alive," defenceman Joe Hicketts told the tournament's website. "Six years and it's been quite a ride for Canadian hockey and to win it in the same year we won the [World] U-18 Championships [in April] is big."
Brayden Point had a pair of assists and was named game MVP for Canada, which won the event for the 18th time since it began in 1991 and for the 16th time in the past 18 years. The United States finished second for the eighth time; the Americans' lone gold medal came in 2003. The U.S. came in seventh last year and hadn't medaled since coming in second in 2010.
'It's definitely a good tournament for us," Wagner, the U.S. team captain, told the tournament website. "Over the years the U.S. has fell really short and over the years we've gotten closer. I feel like we're happy with the silver.'
Canada grabbed the lead 3:58 into the game when Dal Colle took a drop pass from Spencer Watson and beat Alex Nedeljkovic.
Hawryluk beat Nedeljkovic through the five-hole at 11:23 of the second period before two members of the Ontario Hockey League's Barrie Colts put the game away in the third. Ekblad, Canada's team captain and a defenceman who's expected to be a high puck in the 2014 NHL Draft, scored with 7:31 remaining in regulation on a one-time blast that went in off the crossbar for a power-play goal. Lemieux punched in a rebound with 5:43 to play to complete the scoring.
"Canada has a very good team and we just fell a little short," Wagner said. "We only had two weeks together, we did our best. It was a good game.
"There was definitely a little bit of fatigue. We've been on the ice two times a day for two weeks and travelling and the time change. It was very hard for our guys but we battled through and fell a little short."
Watson assisted on both third-period goals for a three-assist game and leads all scorers in the tournament with 10 points (four goals). Nick Schmaltz was tops for the Americans with eight points, including five goals.
Canada bounced back after a loss to Sweden in the preliminary round that means it needed to beat Switzerland in a shootout to advance to the medal round.
"There were questions whether or not we were going to make it after our game against Switzerland," Hicketts said. "We refocused. We had our little scare and faced our adversity and we got back to business. We didn't take anything lightly from there on and we pulled together from there."
The Americans looked worn out after a tough 5-3 victory against the Czech Republic in the semifinals on Friday, the same day the Canadiens beat Russia 3-1.
"Our guys spent a lot of energy last night to beat the Czechs, who are a very good team," coach Bob Corkum said. "But our hat is off to Canada. They played extremely well."