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With a day off behind it after a double-digit shutout win, Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team will look to keep things rolling Tuesday against Slovakia.
Canada posted its biggest win ever over the Swiss on Sunday, scoring its way to a 14-0 victory to open its Hlinka Gretzky Cup. It marked Canada’s second-highest single-game goal total in summer U18 competition, trailing only an 18-0 win over Belarus in 1998. Special teams were on display; the Canadians went 4-for-4 on the power play, including two from Ethan Gauthier as part of his hat trick. In total, 16 players had points, including an assist from Scott Ratzlaff on top of his 17-save shutout.
The Slovakians opened their tournament with a 4-1 loss to Sweden on Monday afternoon. Samuel Barcik pulled Slovakia even early in the third period, but the Swedes retook the lead just 19 seconds later and added a pair of late markers to seal the three points.
This will be the first matchup between Canada and Slovakia since the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup—the last time the event was on Canadian ice. In that one, Canada booked its spot in the semifinals with a 4-2 win, helped by two-point performances from Alexis Lafrenière and Josh Williams. The Canadians were tested against Slovakian netminder David Borak, who turned away 54 of the 58 shots he faced.
WHAT TO WATCH
How about the special teams? Canada scored half of its goals against the Swiss either on the power play (four) or shorthanded (three), with Gauthier (two PPGs) and Colby Barlow (two SHGs) providing most of the offence. The Canadians will need to stay out of the penalty box, though; spending 12 minutes shorthanded could become an issue as the tournament rolls on.
Slovakia wasn’t short on opportunities against the Swedes, firing 33 shots on goal, but only Barcik could find the back of the net. That shooting percentage will need to rise. In goal, Samuel Urban has played 100 of the 120 minutes (including a pre-tournament loss to the U.S.) with an .894 save percentage (59 of 66). He’ll need to be good again to keep the Slovakians close.
A LOOK BACK
Canada is undefeated against Slovakia in summer U18 play, dating back to their first meeting at the 1997 Three Nations Cup. The closest game came in the tournament opener 2016 when Slovakia forced overtime thanks to a power-play goal from Filip Krivoski in final minute of the third period, but Maxime Comtois scored in overtime to give Canada a 3-2 victory.
All-time record: 17-0-0 (1-0 in OT/SO) Canada goals: 95 Slovakia goals: 29
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