Schneider and Canada hitting their stride

Photo Courtesy of Byron Hackett/Red Deer Advocate Braden Schneider makes his way around the ice for Canada during a Hlinka Gretzky Cup pre-tournament game against the Czech Republic in Red Deer during the summer of 2018.

To say that Braden Schneider is happy with how things have gone so far with Team Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup would be an understatement.

After a 4-3 win over Sweden Wednesday night, Canada finished in first place in Group A with a 3-0 record and is now preparing to face the United States in the semifinal round Friday at 7 p.m. in Edmonton.

“We’ve really come a long way in the last week,” Schneider said.

“We’ve had our ups and downs, but our chemistry has improved a lot and I think we’re looking really good as a team heading into the playoffs.”

Following a 4-3 loss to the Czech Republic in a pre-tournament contest in Red Deer Saturday, Canada hit the ground running when round-robin play began Monday in Edmonton.

They cruised to a 10-0 triumph over Switzerland and doubled up Slovakia 4-2 to clinch a spot in the playoffs prior to their win over Sweden.

“That loss to the Czech Republic really helped us get going in the right direction and it made us improve our focus on what needed to do in order to have a good tournament,” Schneider said.

“We’ve had our challenges during the round-robin, especially against Sweden where it was a really back-and-forth game, and I think that’s going to help us out a lot going forward.”

Schneider, who will soon be gearing up for his second season with the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings, has yet to record a point at the tournament as he’s suited up as Canada’s seventh defenceman during the round-robin.

“I’ve liked the things that I’ve done so far out there,” Schneider said.

“I’m more of a role player on this team, so my main focus right now is to make sure that I’m keeping my compete level up so that I can help the team in whatever way I can.”

The winner of Friday’s semifinal between Canada and the United States will play either Russia or Sweden in Saturday’s championship game.