Canadian captain Cameron Allen crosses centre ice against Finland during the Hlinka Gretzky Cup semi-finals at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Canadian captain Cameron Allen crosses centre ice against Finland during the Hlinka Gretzky Cup semi-finals at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Canada advances to the gold medal game at Hlinka

Ratzlaff completed the game with 23 saves

Canada 4 Finland 1

Team Canada is headed to the gold medal game on Saturday after they defeated Finland Friday evening 4-1 at the Peavey Mart Centrium.

Despite the score, they couldn’t have done it without the stellar performance from goaltender Scott Ratzlaff. The Irma, Alta. native stood tall for 23 saves, many of them not easy to make against a talented Finnish team.

“It’s feeling great,” Ratzlaff said. “The team played hard and what’s working for me is just they’re keeping them to the outside and you know they’re shooting from the perimetre so I got to make sure that those shots don’t turn into high scoring chance rebebounds.”

His only goal came late in the third period when the Canadians were well ahead of their competition scored by Artuu Alasiurua with less than a minute left. This was Canada’s toughest competiton thus far in the tournament. When asked if he could feel the pressure as the game went on, Ratzlaff said he knew it was going to be a tough game.

“There’s that compete aspect at that level but I definitely saw the calibre was definitely raised,” he said.

Ratzlaff grew up just two and a half hours from Red Deer and he said playing in a tournament so closed to home has been great.

“You kind of look in the stands in warm ups and you see all the relatives and family. You kind of get a sense of home like there’s your mom, there’s your dad you get all that Irma support,” he said.

Ethan Gauthier got Canada on the board with less than a minute remaining in the first period after a beautiful toe drag in front of goaltender Eemil Vinni and placed it in the top left corner off the backhand.

In the second period Calum Ritchie got his ninth point of the tournament after he banked in a shot off the boards and redirected in off the back of Vinni’s pads into the net.

In the final frame the Canadians put the game away with goals from Matthew Wood and Denver Barkey less than 20 seconds apart. Finnish goalie Vinni also finished with 23 saves in the loss to the Canadians.

Canada assistant coach Al Letang said he thought his team came out nervous and hesitant, which he said it to be expected.

“I know we’ve got a group of young 17 year olds who have probably played the most emotional, most intense game of their career. I thought we were a little bit sloppy in the first with a few too many turnovers… All in all I think the outcome we’re happy with but we’re going to have to be ready tomorrow for another game that’s intense like that,” Letang said.

“I thought tonight both goalies were really good. Some of the scoring chances that both teams had their goalie came up big, our goalie came up big on a few saves. It’s a calming influence when you have a goalie, you have that breakdown and he can make that save for you. It just settles the bench down and settles the guys down.”

Canada will play in the gold medal game at 4 p.m. after the conclusion of the bronze medal game and will battle the winner of the Czechia versus Sweden semi-final.

Earlier in the day the consolation round games commenced with Switzerland taking on Germany where the Swiss dominated the game 4-1. Leo Braillard scored the first two goals of the game for the Swiss followed by a Zachary Etique goal in the second period to lead 3-0. Three minutes into the third period, Germany got their first of the game scored by Linus Brandl. Late in the final frame Switzerland put the final nail in the coffin with a Kevin Zurcher empty net goal. Swtizerland goaltender made 22 saves and German goalie Nico Pertuch made 34 saves of his own.

The United States and Slovakia were up next in the consolation round where the U.S. won 4-2. Slovakia hopped out to a 1-0 lead early scored by Leo Eperjesi and 10 minutes later the U.S. tied it with a goal by Joe Connor. Just a few minutes later, the U.S. scored on the powerplay by Andrew Strathmann. In the second period Tanner Adams scored on the powerplay to make it 3-1. The Americans took a commaning lead two minutes into the third period as Zack Sharp put the U.S. up 4-1. Uraj Pekarcik would score one more for Slovakia before the end of the game.

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Brayden Yager moves up the ice against Finland during the Hlinka Gretzky Cup semi-finals at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Brayden Yager moves up the ice against Finland during the Hlinka Gretzky Cup semi-finals at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Ethan Gauthier and his line mates celebrate a goal at the end of the first period of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup semi-finals against Finland. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Ethan Gauthier and his line mates celebrate a goal at the end of the first period of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup semi-finals against Finland. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Canada goaltender Scott Ratzlaff makes a safe against Finland during the semi-finals of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup on Friday at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Canada goaltender Scott Ratzlaff makes a safe against Finland during the semi-finals of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup on Friday at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)