For the 23rd time since the tournament’s inception, Team Canada has won the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Canada jumped out to a 2-1 first period lead on route to a decisive 4-1 victory over Sweden at the Centrium in Red Deer. Prince Albert’s Tanner Howe was one of the key players in the victory. The talented left winger scored Canada’s opening goal at 5:49 in the first period.
“That building was pretty noisy,” Howe said. “Our line was up first, and we just dumped the puck in. There was good fore-checking on my linemates (and) the puck popped out to me. It was kind of a lucky goal, but I’m glad it got in.”
Howe’s goal put Canada up 1-0, but Hugo Pettersson tied it up for Sweden roughly six minutes later. Canada then went ahead for good on goals by Ethan Gauthier, Calum Ritchie, and Brayden Yager.
Howe said the fans were great during Saturday’s Gold Medal game, and it helped motivate the Canadian players.
“It was actually great to see all the fans support us,” he said. “You just see all the red (and) everyone cheering, so it was nice to see that.”
Seven of Howe’s family members came up to see him play in the tournament. Going into the tournament, Howe said they were confident, but new they could take nothing for granted.
“I thought, going in, we obviously had a chance,” he explained. “We knew it wouldn’t come easy. We’d have to work for it, and obviously, playing for gold was pretty cool.”
Growing up, Howe looked up to defenceman Braden Schneider, a fellow product of the Prince Albert minor hockey system, and a first round draft pick of the New York Rangers. With Howe’s gold medal win on Sunday, he now has something else in common with Schneider besides his place of birth. Both are now Hlinka Gretzky Cup winners.
“I looked up to Braden Schneider a bit, just kinda of how he grew up in PA and made his way to the NHL,” Howe said. “I think that’s pretty cool.”
Howe has already shown great offensive talent, tallying 69 points in his first full season with the Regina Pats. The next time Prince Albert hockey fans might get to see him play in front of his hometown fans is September 9th, when the Pats face off against the Raiders in pre-season action. After that, the Raiders host the Pats on December 9th at 7 pm. Both games will be played at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert.
What advice would the 16-year-old give to young people playing hockey?
“Just keep working, no matter what. If you have a dream, it will always come true if you put the work in.”
In 1991, the Junior World Cup was established as an international tournament in under 18 men’s hockey, first played in Japan. Then in 1997, the same tournament was moved to Slovakia and the Czech Republic. In 2007, the same tournament was renamed the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.
The locations – and the name – of the tournament was changed in 2018 to the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, seeing the tournament alternating between the Czech Republic and Canada.