Canada 14 Switzerland 0
Skill and talent.
Those are the attributes the U18 Canadian Men’s National team have no shortage of and they proved that Sunday.
On a night the Peavey Mart Centrium was full of red Canadian jerseys everywhere you looked, Canada dismantled Switzerland 14-0 to open the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Colby Barlow, who plays for the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League, had himself an explosive start scoring not one, but two shorthanded goals in the first period.
“I’m just going out there working hard doing the best I can every shift and you know It’s a privlege playing the PK making sure defensive first and we got the offensive bounces on the penalty kill, which was fortunate, and we capitalized early,” Barlow said.
Special teams for Canada was a strong suit Sunday night as they went four-for-four on the powerplay and kept the Swiss at bay with an impressive six-for-six on the penalty kill.
Although it seems Barlow is a seasoned veteran on the penalty kill, he explained he’s still pretty new to the assignment.
“At the end of last season in the playoffs, I started playing penalty kill and just kind of kept playing and playing. And right in camp I started the penalty kill and I’ve been loving it and It’s been a lot of fun,” Barlow said.
Canada head coach Stephane Julien said when they did their pre-scouting for the tournament Barlow possessed a lot of power, good skating, the ability to score and is really good with body position on the penalty kill.
“He takes a lot of space and is really good with his stick. You see today the two goals he scored he just put on a second gear, maybe the third gear and it made all the difference,” he said.
Sherbrooke Phoenix right winger Ethan Gauthier scored a hattrick for Canada before the end of the second period and is just shy of the team lead in points behind forward Calum Ritchie who had four points.
Carson Rehkopf, Brayden Yager, Matthew Wood, Andrew Cristall, Kalan Lind, Denver Barkey, Caden Price, Calum Ritchie, and Riley Heidt which made up 11 different goal scorers for the Canadians.
Barlow said this has been an amazing team to play for with a roster full of talent and plenty of hard workers.
“It’s a special group for sure,” he said. “It’s a privilege to be a part of it.”
Scott Ratzlaff was solid in the net as the Irma, Alta. native made 17 saves. Swiss goaltender Diego Simeoni, who made three saves was pulled after the Canadians third goal in the first period and was replaced by Ewan Huet who faced 45 shots made 35 saves in the loss.
The Canadians are poised to score a lot of goals at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and if Sunday was any indication Team Canada will be the team to beat moving forward.
Julien said he was somewhat surprised at how they seemingly dominated the game and was expecting more competition from their opponents.
“I guess give credit to my players it’s the details but the first penalty kill we did big save by Scott and we turned around and scored the first goal. I think it was a big turning point of the game right there,” Julien said.
“We have skill, we have talent so if a team gives us some time in the offensive zone we’ll make those teams pay the price for sure.”
The club moved the puck with confidence with plenty of tape-to-tape passes that led to highlight reel goals and a whopping 52 shots on goal.
“In a short-term tournament, you don’t want to take bad habits that’s the challenge for the coaches when the score is a little bit high. You make turnovers, long shift but overall we’re not disappointed,” Julien added.
Also on Sunday Czechia beat Finland 4-3 in the shootout and the U.S. beat Germany 8-1. Canada will play again on Tuesday against Slovakia at 7 p.m.