BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – Barrett Hayton (Peterborough, Ont./Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) paced the offence with two goals and an assist, and Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team scored four power-play goals to earn a 6-1 win over Slovakia to close out the preliminary round Wednesday at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.
The Canadians finished second in Group B, and will welcome undefeated Sweden to Bratislava for the semifinal on Friday (1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT).
Joe Veleno (Kirkland, Que./Saint John, QMJHL) and Anderson MacDonald (Quispamsis, N.B./Sherbrooke, QMJHL) added a goal and assist apiece for Canada, which has been deadly with the man advantage; in its last two games, the red-and-white has gone 7-for-14 on the power play.
The teams spent most of the first period parading to the penalty box, combining for seven minor penalties in the opening 20 minutes.
Canada made good on its second power play; Hayton found Calen Addison (Brandon, Man./Lethbridge, WHL) in front, and the defenceman roofed his shot over the shoulder of goaltender Michal Vojvoda to put the Canadians on the board.
Gabriel Fortier (Lachine, Que./Baie-Comeau, QMJHL) doubled the lead just 26 seconds later, racing away and beating Vojvoda over the glove to send the Canadians to the dressing room up by a pair.
Canada dominated the puck in the second period, outshooting the tournament co-hosts 15-3 in the frame, and adding two more goals to its total.
Hayton was first at 11:07, toe-dragging around a Slovak defenceman before snapping a quick shot to the far side on Vojvoda, before MacDonald made it 4-0 on the power play at 15:39.
Slovakia finally solved Canadian netminder Olivier Rodrigue (Chicoutimi, Que./Drummondville, QMJHL) early in the third period on a power-play goal by Oliver Turan, but the man-advantage unit went to work again to extend the lead.
Ryan Merkley (Mississauga, Ont./Guelph, OHL) did the work on the 5-1 goal, stick-handling his way to the face-off dot before going cross-ice for Veleno, and Hayton got his stick on a Ty Smith (Lloydminster, Alta./Spokane, WHL) point shot midway through the final stanza to finish the scoring.
The Canadians finished with a massive advantage in shots on goal, 39-12.
“Throughout the tournament, we’ve been getting better every game and every shift; today really showed what we’ve been working on. We’ll be ready to play against Sweden [in the semifinal].”
Alternate captain Jett Woo on the team’s progress throughout the event
“We got better again, and that’s what we’ve been preaching: ‘better every day.’ I thought we took another good step today. I liked our [offensive] zone – I thought we were patient, we moved pucks well. Our special teams were good again. We’re doing what we want to do. But now it’s for real. Now it’s semifinals, and Sweden’s going to be a big task for us, they’ve got a heck of a hockey team, but we’ll be excited for the game.”
Head coach Brent Kisio
Canada has won gold 20 times in 25 years of summer under-18 competition and plays in Group B this year with Finland, Russia, and Slovakia; Group A consists of the Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.