Canada crushes Sweden to win Hlinka Gretzky Cup under-18 tournament

EDMONTON — Sasha Mutala and Alexis Lafreniere each had a pair of goals as Canada defeated Sweden 6-2 in the final of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup under-18 tournament on Saturday night.

Kirby Dach and Josh Williams also scored for Canada, which has now won the tournament 10 of the last 11 years, and has captured gold 22 times in the 28 years the event has been held.

Lucas Raymond and Alexander Holtz replied with goals for Sweden, which also lost 4-3 to Canada in the round robin.

Canada, which was fortunate to be in the final after scoring a game-tying goal at the buzzer against the United States in the semis that likely would have been called off if video review was allowed, trailed early against the Swedes.

Sweden scored just 42 seconds into the first period on a power play as Raymond rifled a shot top corner past Canadian goalie Nolan Maier.

Sweden took a 2-0 lead with eight-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first as Holtz beat Maier on a breakaway, prompting Canada to make a goalie change, with Taylor Gauthier coming into the game.

The move seemed to give the Canadians some new life as they got on the board just 41 seconds later when Mutala tipped a puck past Swedish goaltender Hugo Alnefelt.

A couple minutes later, Canada knotted the game up as 2020 first overall draft-pick favourite Lafreniere stole a puck and sent it on net, where it was redirected in by Dach.

Canada took the lead with two minutes to play in the opening frame when Lafreniere dodged through the defence to score.

The home team took a two-goal lead with eight minutes left in the second as a Dylan Holloway shot went off Mutala’s cage and deflected in.

Canada went up 5-2 five minutes into the third when Williams scored on a give-and-go and added more insurance on a power-play goal by Lafreniere with six minutes left.

Russia defeated the U.S. 5-4 in the bronze-medal match.

It was the first year the tournament was hosted by Edmonton, which will have it every second year for the next four years, with the odd years taking place in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Shane Jones, The Canadian Press

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