Daily Dose of the Dub: Hlinka Gretzky Cup underway

Hlinka all set to go:

The Hlinka Gretzky Cup got going on Monday with all eight teams in action. The Group A (Canada, Switzerland, Sweden and Slovakia) games will take place in Edmonton, while Group B (USA, Russia, Finland and the Czech Republic)’s games are in Red Deer.

Russia 7 Finland 2

-A magnificent start to the tournament for the Russians as they gave up the game’s first goal and then stormed out in the second, scoring five straight. They were all over the Finns and delivered a stellar performance.

WHL players who stood out to me:

-#13 – Oleg Zaitsev – RW – Russia – Red Deer Rebels. He had a goal in last six minutes of the game when it was not in doubt, but played a strong game throughout. He knows how to use his size well and just seems like too much for opponents to handle along the boards and in front of the net. Specifically in front of the net, his M.O. seems to be to drive at the net, drop the puck and then use his body as a screen. I think he will be productive right away in his first year in the WHL, with a lot of that production taking place in tight. There were a few times where he seemed to be behind the play as it developed, which could happen in the WHL as well, but I could see him get up to speed.

-#19 – Vasili Podlozin – RW – Russia – Medicine Hat. I have not seen yet that the Tigers have signed Podlozin, though if his performance in the first game of this tournament is a testament to his play, they need to get on that. He had the one goal, on a breakaway but had many other chances and added two assists for three points. He is also on the top power play unit for the Russians and they seemed to be trying to set him up for a one-timer consistently. He has a great stride and is speedy. He could be a real difference-maker for the Tigers who drafted him and Danish goalie Mads Sogaard in this year’s CHL Import Draft. They also could get back Swedish overage defenseman Linus Nassen, but he would take up both an import and an overage spot if he came back.

Sweden 4 Slovakia 2

This was a tighter game with the Swedes and Slovaks trading two goals each through 40 before Sweden scored twice in the third to win it.

United States 6 Czech Republic 0

The U.S. led by one after the first but it was another big second period that swung a game in Red Deer, Alberta. They netted three goals in the second and cruised to a 6-0 win.

Standout WHL players

-#22 – Luke Toporowski – LW – USA – Spokane. The Bettendorf, Iowa native was dynamic throughout the game and was paid off with a short-handed breakaway marker to close out the game’s scoring. He forced the turnover at his own blue line and flew in on the rush, beating the Czech goalie with ease. He could have a huge tournament.

-#30 – Dustin Wolf – Goalie – USA – Everett. The Silvertips netminder was not tested too often but when eh did have to scramble to make a desperate save to his left in the second period, he still somehow did it with grace. Just like Carter Hart, he seems to never get rattled in the net and turned away all 23 shots he faced.

Canada 10 Switzerland 0

It was a match up of a nation that won gold just last year and a country that has struggled at this event. It was never close. Canada scored three in the first and five in the third to bring an eight-goal lead into the third. They would end up winning by double digits.

Standout WHL players:

-#17 – Kirby Dach – RW – Canada – Saskatoon. One goal and an assist on the night for two points. He played on a line with Peyton Krebs (Kootenay – three points) and Alexis Lareniere and the three created chances on nearly every shift.

-#30 – Nolan Maier – Goalie – Canada – Saskatoon. Maier, like Wolf, was not tested much but he still had to make one big save on a breakaway to secure the clean sheet.

Tomorrow Switzerland plays Sweden, Canada takes on Slovakia, the USA challenges Finland and the Czech Republic battles Russia.




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