The Western Hockey League is proud to recognize 11 players returning from the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup with gold as members of Team Canada, following a 6-2 victory over Sweden Saturday evening at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alta.
Sasha Mutala (Tri-City Americans / Vancouver, B.C.) scored a pair of goals, Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes / Whitehorse, Yukon) added a pair of assists, and goaltender Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars / Calgary, Alta.) stopped all 16 shots sent his way to claim the victory.
Down 2-0 to Sweden in the first, Mutala scored Canada’s opening goal with assists coming from Bowen Byram (Vancouver Giants / Cranbrook, B.C.) and Cozens. Just minutes later, Kirby Dach (Saskatoon Blades / Fort Saskatchewan, Sask.) tied up the game for Canada.
Mutala earned his second goal of the game as Canada doubled their lead in the second period, with Cozens earning his second assist of the game on the lone goal of the period. Josh Williams (Medicine Hat Tigers / Langley, B.C.) would add his fifth goal of the tournament exactly five minutes into the third period.
Alexis Lafrenière scored a pair of goals in the victory as Canada rounded out a six-goal performance.
WHL players returning home with gold include goaltenders Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars / Calgary, Alta.) and Nolan Maier (Saskatoon Blades / Yorkton, Sask.), defencemen Bowen Byram (Vancouver Giants / Cranbrook, B.C.), Kaedan Korczak (Kelowna Rockets / Yorkton, Sask.), Matthew Robertson (Edmonton Oil Kings / Sherwood Park, Alta.) Braden Schneider (Brandon Wheat Kings / Prince Albert, Sask.) and forwards Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes / Whitehorse, Yukon), Kirby Dach (Saskatoon Blades / Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.), Peyton Krebs (Kootenay ICE / Okotoks, Alta.), Sasha Mutala (Tri-City Americans / Vancouver, B.C.), and Josh Williams (Medicine Hat Tigers / Langley, B.C.).
WHL staff members returning home with gold include Alan Millar (Moose Jaw Warriors / Tottenham, Ont.) who served in the team’s management group, assistant coach Mitch Love (Saskatoon Blades / Quesnel, B.C.), video coach Andrew Doty (Lethbridge Hurricanes / Calgary, Alta.), and goaltending consultant Jason LaBarbera (Calgary Hitmen / Burnaby, B.C).
Canada’s undefeated run at the tournament saw them capture top spot in Group A during preliminary action, skating to a record of 3-0-0-0, before defeating the United States of America in semi-final play. Saturday’s victory marked the second time Canada had defeated Sweden at the tournament following a 4-3 victory on Wednesday.
WHL forwards enjoyed great individual success throughout the tournament, led by Kirby Dach (2G-5A), Josh Williams (5G-1A), Peyton Krebs (2G-3A), Dylan Cozens (2G-3A), and Sasha Mutala (2G-2A). Offensive contributions came from WHL defencemen as well thanks to Matthew Robertson (2G-2A), Bowen Byram (1G-3A) and Kaedan Korczak (3A).
Both Gauthier and Maier rose to the occasion throughout the tournament as Canada trusted their duties between the pipes to the pair of WHL goaltenders. Gauthier concluded the tournament with a 1.11 goals-against-average and .943 save percentage while Maier posted one shutout in 193 minutes of action.