Canada Slaughters Switzerland
The favorites to win gold are off to a great start, with Canada beating Switzerland 14-0 in front of a loud home crowd.
Canada entered the game with a 37-4 count in five previous U-18 games at the World Championship and Hlinka Gretzky, shutting the Swiss out four times. Canada won its past two games against Switzerland 10-0 and 9-2.
The first period was as dominant as it gets in a major international tournament, with Canada scoring eight goals in the opening 20. Colby Barlow got the scoring opened at 2:02, with Canada scoring five goals over a five-minute span from 7:29-11:11. Carson Rehkopf, Brayden Yager, Matthew Wood and Andrew Cristall all scored once, Ethan Gauthier scored a pair and Barlow scored a second in a period that saw both Diego Simeoni and Ewan Huet tend the net for the Swiss.
The second period went exactly as expected. Kalan Lind, Denver Barkey Caden Price all scored their first goals of the tournament, with Gauthier's third of the game also coming near the end of the second. Canada eased the gas a bit in the third, with Cal Ritchie and Riley Heidt being the two goal-scorers for Canada to close out one of the most dominant efforts ever seen in tournament history.
USA Dominates Germany 8-1
USA is off to a fantastic start at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup following a massive 8-1 win over Germany.
The two teams had met just once before in this tournament's history, with the Americans shutting Germany out 10-0 last year.
Will Whitelaw and Andrew Strathmann led the way offensively for USA with three points each, with Whitelaw scoring the opening goal at 5:07 of the first. Carey Terrance scored two minutes to make it 2-0, ultimately scoring the game-winning goal.
Joe Connor's power-play goal 38 seconds into the second period made it 3-0 before Joe Gramer's goal three minutes later scored the goal that forced an early end to Nico Pertuch's night after allowing four goals on 23 shots.
Dean Doge took over at 25:43 and it seemed to have sparked some new life into Germany's attack, with Lindus Brandl scoring at 28:52 while shorthanded to make it 4-1.
WIll McDonough's goal at 33:03 took any German momentum away, only for Andrew Strathmann, Griffin Erdman and Whitelaw to make it 8-1. American goaltender Calvin Vachon stopped 14 of the 15 shots sent his way, while Doge made 22 saves on 34 shots in a relief effort for the Germans.
Czechia Tops Young Finnish Squad in Opener
Czechia, one of the usual hosts of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, kicked off the festivities in Red Deer on Sunday with a 4-3 victory over Finland, a team dominated by 2024 draft talent.
Czechia had a 2-0 lead in the first half of the game. Jakub Stancl opened the scoring at 2:36 on a shorthanded play, with Adam Zidlicky -- the son of former NHLer Marek Zidlicky -- doubling the team's lead at 28:04. Finnish standout Kasper Halttunen scored the first power-play goal of the game at 36:38 to cut the lead in half, with the game set for a wild finale.
A pair of Finnish goals spiced things up, giving them a 3-2 lead. Kalle Kangas scored at 41:28 and Joona Saarelainen added another at 50:29, forcing Czechia to play catch-up in the dying minutes. With just 33 seconds to go, Stancl scored on a wrister to tie the game at three, forcing the game into extra time.
The contest required a shootout, with the teams trading goals throughout the six-round affair. Eduard Sale scored the game-winner on his second goal of the 1-on-1 shooting contest, getting revenge on Finland after the latter's 4-3 shootout win from the 2021 tournament.