There is no feeling like it.
Winning a gold medal with your teammates after playing alongside them for a week straight sporting your country’s logo and colours on your chest.
Canada is golden once again after defeating Sweden in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup final Saturday evening at the Peavey Mart Centrium.
Red Deer Rebels forward Kalan Lind couldn’t hold back his excitement speaking to media on the ice after lifting the Hlinka Gretzky Cup above his head.
“This is the greatest experience of my life that I’ve had ever. I’m out of words, I can’t describe it right now what feeling I’m feeling,” Lind said. “I think It’s every kids childhood dream when they play hockey to represent their country. You watch all those World Juniors, the U18 Championships, and then when you get to this age you make the team and It’s surreal.”
Lind said he will remember this for the rest of his life and is one of the greatest group of guys he’s played with.
“Even though it was a short time they’re going to be my brothers forever,” he added.
This tournament was dominated by Canada on both ends of the ice as Canada outscored the opposition 34-3.
And on Saturday night they did just that. Just over five minutes into the game Canadian forward Tanner Howe scored Canada’s first of the game banking in off the back of the goaltender.
However, Sweden got the equalizer midway through the opening frame when Hugo Pettersson fired one into the back of the net. Both teams were playing a physical brand of hockey with plenty of hits on both sides.
After Canada’s second goal was called back, Ethan Gauthier put Canada ahead with a laser in front of the net on the powerplay. Gauthier led the tournament with six goals.
In the second period, Calum Ritchie did what he does best scoring a goal to take the tournament lead in points with 10. This extended the home teams lead to two goals with a 3-1 lead.
In the final frame the Swedes on a powerplay opportunity had a wide open net but was denied by Canadian goaltender Scott Ratzlaff when he made a sprawling save extending his left leg out.
Brayden Yager scored the final goal for Canada to extend the lead 4-1, which was his ninth point of the tournament.
Lind added the key to success was everyone buying into their own role and doing what’s best for the team to be successful.
“I think every single person up and down the roster did that and they bought in and we just came out with the win,” he said.
Lind explained some of his Rebels teammates have congratulated him already through text message. Lind added the experience is extra special he won it in the Peavey Mart Centrium, a place he spends most of the year playing the game he loves.
“It’s my hometown right now. My life is Red Deer right now and getting one in front of all these fans and all these hometown fans is so cool,” he added.
Ratzlaff finished the gold medal game with 25 saves and was solid all tournament for Canada as they never lost a game. He led the tournament with a .976 save percentage and only allowed two goals in four games.
The Irma, Alta. native said it feels amazing to win the gold.
“It was team first from the start. Our GM Peter Anholt he put quite the team together that new to put everyone first… I think he really put a team that sacrificed everything for everyone around the room,” Ratzlaff said.
He added to win it for his hometown of Irma is a great feeling.
“I can look into the crowd and see a couple of the fans from Irma so It just feels like It’s home,” Ratzlaff said.
Canada head coach Stephane Julien said the feeling of winning it all is unbelievable.
“Three weeks ago we started with a lot of talent to put a 22-man roster together but I felt right away that the group was a very tight… They didn’t have it easy the last two years with COVID-19 and finally they get something to win. A gold medal, that’s something they’re going to remember all through their career,” Julien said.