BRECLAV, Czech Republic – Canada beat Russia in the under-18 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka hockey tournament final for a second straight summer, and won the event for a fifth time in six years by playing its style of game.
Some big early hits set the tone and continued physical play wore down the Russians as Canada cruised to gold with a 9-2 victory Saturday.
Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers found the net twice while Brandon Gormley of the Moncton Wildcats and Ryan Spooner of the Peterborough Petes also scored during a four-goal, second-period outburst that effectively decided things. And it was Canada's rough-and-tumble ways that set it all up.
“We got the kids playing the right way,” said head coach Bob Boughner, his players hooting and hollering in the background. “We know how the Russians wanted to play, they want the puck turned over and to trade chances.
“What we did is just chip (the puck) to open areas, dump it in and get on the forecheck and take the body to them. Over the course of the game we just wore them down and that's when the offence starts coming.”
Gormley opened the scoring in the first, Jeff Skinner of the Kitchener Rangers also picked up a pair while Jaden Schwartz of the Notre Dame Hounds and John McFarland of the Sudbury Wolves had the other goals for Canada, which led 2-1 after 20 minutes and 6-2 through 40.
Kiril Kabanov and Stanislav Galiev replied for the Russians, who were worn down by their opponents' punishing physical game.
“We had some video on them and saw they're a real run and gun team,” said Skinner. “We wanted to shut that down and play the game our way, take the game to them.
“That's what we did and it helped us a lot.”
Louis Domingue of the Wildcats stopped 20 shots for the win. Last year, Canada beat Russia 6-3 in the final.
“It's not easy having a bunch of kids coming from different areas of the country and having to, one bond as a team, and two have different coaching with different systems they haven't played before,” said Boughner. “I thought they came together and really meshed as a group and started playing the right way.
“They played to the Canadian identity.”
They also did it in a remarkably one-sided fashion, winning its two warmup games before the tournament and all four games at the event by a combined score of 40-7.
But there were some moments of adversity, particularly in Tuesday's 3-2 victory over Sweden in which they fell behind early and had to rally.
“That was the big game for us,” said Boughner. “It was a tight game and we found a way to win that one.
“Sweden is probably the second-best team in this tournament, there was a lot of pressure in that game. Once we won that game, we knew that was going to be our toughest task.”
Skinner agreed, and said the seeds of the gold-medal win were planted in that game.
“It was sort of like our first test,” he said. “It was just that little bit of adversity that team needs to go through to win this kind of tournament.
“We handled it well and it got us to where we are now.”
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)