Guhle and Wiesblatt ready for Hlinka Gretzky Cup

Photo Courtesy of Hockey Canada Prince Albert Raiders teammates Kaiden Guhle (front row, fourth from left) and Ozzy Wiesblatt (middle row, fourth from right) will represent Canada at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, which gets underway Monday.

Kaiden Guhle and Ozzy Wiesblatt have had the opportunity to travel to several places so far in their hockey careers.

Their next journey is taking the Prince Albert Raiders teammates to Europe for the first time as they will play for Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovakia this week.

“I’ve heard lots of good things about what everything is like over there and I’m excited to experience it firsthand,” Guhle said before his flight overseas on Wednesday afternoon.

Although the pair will have a chance to view the sights, their trip is strictly business as they look to help Canada win their third straight gold medal at the tournament.

“It’s really hard to put into words what it’s like to wear the maple leaf,” Wiesblatt said a day after he and Guhle were named to the final roster.

“It’s a huge honour and a privilege. It’s something that everyone on the roster doesn’t take for granted.”

Guhle and Wiesblatt, who were joined by Jakob Brook at last week’s selection camp in Calgary, are the first Raiders players to make Canada’s roster since Ian Scott went to the tournament three years ago.

The last time that two members of the team went to the event was in 1999 when Scott Hartnell and Nick Schultz brought back a gold medal.

“To have Kaiden here with me is super special, especially since we’ve become pretty close over the last couple of years,” Wiesblatt said.

“It’s awesome to have Ozzy on the team and hopefully we can make Prince Albert proud,” Guhle added.

Although they didn’t record a point during the camp, Guhle and Wiesblatt made their presence felt during three scrimmages.

“I thought that I played well on both sides of the puck,” said Guhle, who was named as an assistant captain on Friday and will be joined on the leadership group by Erie Otters blueliner Jamie Drysdale and Edmonton Oil Kings forward Jake Neighbours.

“I wasn’t trying to lean on the offensive side of the game over the defensive side of the game and vice versa. I wanted to have a really good two-way game at camp and that’s what Hockey Canada wanted to see.”

Meanwhile, Wiesblatt was on the same line as Saginaw Spirit forward Cole Perfetti, who was tied with Justin Sourdif of the Vancouver Giants for the most points at the camp with six.

“I had a lot of fun playing with Cole and I thought that we really complemented each other out there,” Wiesblatt said.

“Everyone here is great to play with. I think our team is well balanced as we’re a skilled group but we’re also pretty tenacious.”

Following a tune-up game against Slovakia at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Canada will start their round-robin slate at 7:30 a.m. Monday against Finland.

“I’m excited to see how we match up against the other countries as we have good speed and size all around,” Guhle said.

“We got a couple of big guys up front with Will Cuylle (of the Windsor Spitfires) and Quinton Byfield (of the Sudbury Wolves) and we have some really good skaters in our defensive core.”

They will then take on Switzerland at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday before concluding their Group A slate at 1 p.m. Wednesday against the Czech Republic.

The top two teams in each group will advance to Friday’s semifinal, with the gold medal game taking place on Saturday, Aug. 10.

All of Canada’s games will air nationally on TSN.