The world’s top under-18 players are set to hit the ice and represent their country at the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, presented by RAM, July 31-Aug. 6 in Red Deer, Alta.
An annual invitation-only tournament that is the only best-on-best competition at the U18 level, the Hlinka Gretzky Cup serves as the first opportunity for fans and scouts to see that year’s NHL Draft prospects, almost a full year before the draft takes place. This year, it’s the Class of 2023 that has its chance on the international stage.
In the past, the tournament has included a who’s-who of Canadian hockey – names like Kariya (1991), Iginla (1994), Thornton (1996), Crosby (2003), Price (2004), Stamkos (2007), MacKinnon (2012), Ekblad (2013) and Lafrenière (2018), to name only a few.
Internationally, alumni include the likes of Alexander Ovechkin (RUS, 2002), Gabriel Landeskog (SWE, 2009), Tomas Plekanec (CZE, 1999), Andre Burakovsky (SWE, 2011-12), Teuvo Teravainen (FIN, 2011), Kirill Kaprizov (RUS, 2014), Mikko Rantanen (FIN, 2013), Johnny Gaudreau (USA, 2010) and a host of others.
The event has been held under a number of different names since the first summer under-18 tournament in 1991 – the Phoenix Cup – in Yokohama and Sapporo, Japan.
It was played for three years in Japan, went to Mexico City in 1994, back to Japan in 1995 and to Nelson and Castlegar, B.C., in 1996 before settling into the Czech Republic and Slovakia beginning in 1997. It alternated between the countries from 1997-2001 before the neighbours co-hosted from 2002-17.
The tournament was known as the Junior World Cup before it was renamed in honour of Ivan Hlinka following the tragic passing of the Czech hockey legend in a car accident in 2004. Hlinka won three IIHF World Championship gold medals as a player before leading the country to Olympic gold as head coach in 1998, among his many accomplishments and accolades.
When the tournament returned to Canada in 2018 (in Edmonton and Red Deer), it was rechristened the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, honouring Hlinka and The Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky.
Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team has long been the dominant force in summer U18 hockey, laying claim to 22 of the 30 gold medals since 1991, including runs of seven (1996-2002) and eight (2008-15) consecutive golds.
Want to see the next generation live and in person? Ticket packages are now on sale for the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, presented by RAM.
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