The international hockey season is officially underway. Canada won its fourth consecutive Ivan Hlinka Memorial for 18-year-olds, while Sweden won the U20 event in Lake Placid.
The Ivan Hlinka Memorial (for players under-18) is the traditional opening of the international hockey season, always co-organized by the Czech and Slovak ice hockey associations. Piestany and Breclav were this year’s venues.
There were no major surprises as Canada won the memorial tournament for the fourth consecutive time, defeating Sweden in the gold medal game 4-1.
Canada used a balanced attack to beat the Swedes, getting scoring from Sean Monahan, Scott Laughton, Brendan Gaunce and Charles Hudon.
Canada opened the scoring when Sean Monahan beat Swedish goalie Oscar Dansk midway through the first period on the power play.
Calle Andersson evened the score 13:06 into the second, but Scott Laughton restored the lead three minutes later and the teams headed into the second intermission with Canada up a goal.
Brendan Gaunce gave Canada a two-goal advantage 40 seconds into the third period, before Charles Hudon added a fourth on the power play.
The relatively easy victory was a minor surprise as Sweden defeated Canada 5-1 on day 1 of the tournament.
But Canada progressed as the tournament went along. After the opening loss to the Swedes, Canada beat the Czech Republic 6-1, Switzerland 6-0 and Russia 5-0 en route to the final.
Russia defeated Finland 2-1 on penalty shots to earn third place. Remaining standings: 5. USA, 6. Czech Republic, 7. Switzerland, 8. Slovakia.
Sweden’s U20 avenged the loss of their younger country mates by winning the Junior Evaluation Tournament in Lake Placid, USA. This event can be viewed as the first test for the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship in Calgary and Edmonton in December/January.
Sweden defeated the United States 6-4 in the final game. It was a very successful tournament for the Swedes who defeated Finland twice (8-4 and 7-1), the United States in the preliminaries (4-1), while the only loss was inflicted by USA Blue, 4-3 in overtime.
Three forwards, who should be on Sweden’s World Junior roster in Alberta later this year, dominated the scoring. Johan Larsson had 14 points in five games, Johan Sundström followed with 13, while Max Friberg had 8 points.
Somewhat surprisingly, the highly touted Mika Zibanejad (selected 6th overall by Ottawa in the 2011 NHL draft) recorded only one single point in the three games in which he played.