Ryan Merkley and Team Canada claimed gold at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup. The Mississauga, Ontario native finished the tournament with six assists in five games, finishing in a tie for sixth in tournament scoring and second in defenceman scoring.
BRECLAV, Czech Republic – For the ninth time in 10 years Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team claimed gold at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup with a 4-1 win over the Czech Republic on Saturday.
Captain Joe Veleno (Saint John Sea Dogs), the first player to represent Canada twice at the tournament, scored the game-winner early in the second period, while Noah Dobson (Acadie-Bathurst Titan) and Akil Thomas (Niagara IceDogs) helped pace the offense with two assists each.
Jared McIsaac (Halifax Mooseheads) opened the scoring for Canada with the lone goal of the first period as the red and white held a decisive 19-4 shot advantage through 20 minutes of play.
Veleno’s goal doubled Canada’s lead at the 2:19 mark before Dominik Arnost put the Czechs on the board at 6:59. Defenceman Kevin Bahl (Ottawa 67’s) scored his first goal of the tournament in the final minute of the middle frame providing Canada with some insurance heading into the third.
Barrie Colts prospect Jack McBain finished the scoring in the third period completing a three-point effort when he capitalized off a rebound from a Ty Smith (Spokane Chiefs) shot at 7:53.
Olivier Rodrigue (Drummondville Voltigeurs) was solid in goal turning aside 18 as the Canadians dominated the shot clock 46-19.
Rodrigue led all tournament goaltenders with a goals-against-average of 1.00 and save percentage of .942. Veleno led Canada’s tournament offense with seven points in five games, followed by Thomas, fellow forward Barrett Hayton (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds), and defencemen Calen Addison (Lethbridge Hurricanes), and Ryan Merkley (Guelph Storm) with six points each.
It is the 21st time in 27 summer U18 tournaments Canada has finished atop the podium, dating back to 1991.
In Saturday’s bronze medal contest, Sweden edged Russia 4-3 in overtime.
The Canadians will try to make it 22 summer gold medals when the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup comes to home ice for the first time in 2018; Edmonton will host next August, the first time a major summer U18 tournament is played in Canada since the 1996 Air Canada Pacific Cup in Nelson and Castlegar, B.C.