Although it’s not the medal that they wanted, Prince Albert Raiders teammates Kaiden Guhle and Ozzy Wiesblatt will still return with some hardware from the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Despite dominating the game in shots and an impressive late push in the final minutes, Canada was unable to tie things up in the gold medal game as they dropped a 3-2 decision to Russia on Saturday in Breclav, Czech Republic.
“It wasn’t the outcome that we wanted and I felt like we deserved to win with how we played, but that’s how things go sometimes,” Wiesblatt said.
“It’s always an honour to play for Canada no matter the outcome. It’s something special to wear the maple leaf and this is something that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”
After dominating the round-robin, Canada played in a pair of pressure-packed affairs in the medal round, as they prevailed in an eight-round shootout to defeat Sweden by a score of 3-2 in Friday’s semifinal.
“Those types of games are what you live for as a player and I thought that we handled the challenges quite well, even though we didn’t get the win today,” Guhle said.
“It’s a different experience to play overseas but the people here welcomed us with open arms and really made it feel like home for us. It was an awesome experience to be a part of.”
Alexander Pashin scored twice to help his country earn their first tournament title since 1995 and their fourth overall, while Vasili Ponomaryov had a goal and an assist each.
Yaroslav Askarov, who is the top goaltending prospect for the 2020 NHL Draft, had another incredible performance for Russia as he turned aside 35 shots.
Quinton Byfield (Sudbury Wolves) and Jean-Luc Foudy (Windsor Spitfires) found the back of the net for Canada, who were looking to win their third straight title.
Dylan Garand (Kamloops Blazers) made 10 saves in the loss.
Guhle and Wiesblatt, who were held without a point in the final, each had an assist in the tournament and will now gear up for their second season with the Raiders.
“I’ve played lots of hockey now over the last couple of weeks so I’ll be in pretty good shape by the time training camp gets underway at the end of the month,” Guhle joked.
“It’s always nice to get some games under your belt at this time of year, especially before the season gets underway,” Wiesblatt added. “I’m really excited to come back to Prince Albert and it should be a fun year.”
Saturday’s other game saw Sweden capture the bronze medal in Piestany, Slovakia with a 5-1 win over Finland.