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Hlinka Gretzky Cup Preview: Canada vs. Slovakia

Tuesday, August 1 | 1 p.m. ET | Trencin, Slovakia | Preliminary Round

Jonathan Yue
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August 1, 2023
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Coming off a loss in its tournament opener, Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team looks to bounce back when it faces off against co-host Slovakia on Tuesday at the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

Last Game

Canada will need to have a short memory after dropping a 9-6 decision to Finland in its tournament opener in Trencin. Berkly Catton recorded a goal and two assists to lead the offence, while 14 of the 20 Canadian skaters put their names on the scoresheet.

Slovakia is coming off of a loss of its own, falling 6-3 to Switzerland on Monday to open its tournament. Samuel Kupec, Tomas Slank, and Ján Chovan were the goal scorers for Slovakia, while outshooting the Swiss 25-11 in a losing effort.

Last Meeting

The teams last met a year ago in Red Deer, a 9-1 victory for Canada . Brayden Yager opened the scoring at 5:15 of the first period, finishing the night with two goals and two assists. Tanner Molendyk and Zachary Benson recorded a goal and two assists each, while Carson Bjarnason turned aside 19 shots for the win.

What to Watch

Size will take centre stage as Slovakia (6-foot-1) and Canada (6-foot-0) rank one-two in the tournament in average height. But don’t overlook Justin Poirier. The 5-foot-6 forward from Valleyfield, QC scored in both of Canada’s pre-tournament games before finding the back of the net against the Finns. Poirier is no stranger to scoring goals; his 28 last season were second among all QMJHL rookies, one back of Team Canada teammate Maxim Massé.

The Slovaks have a diminutive forward of their own, with 5-foot-8 Theo Kiss driving the offence for the co-hosts. Kiss was the lone goal scorer in Slovakia’s pre-tournament 4-1 loss to the United States, and had an assist in the loss to the Swiss. The Kosice native, who has already committed to the University of Massachusetts for the 2025-26 season, recorded 74 points (32-42—74) in 56 games with the 16U team at Mount St. Charles Academy last season.

A Look Back

Canada and Slovakia have met 18 times at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, with Canada owning an undefeated record while outscoring the Slovaks 104-30.

Last year’s eight-goal win matched the second-biggest margin of victory – the Canadians also posted 9-1 triumphs in 2002 and 2008 (Brayden Schenn had a goal and two assists, and Ryan Ellis had four helpers), and were 12-2 victors in 2000.

All-time record: Canada leads 18-0 (1-0 in OT/SO)

Canada goals: 104

Slovakia goals: 30

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

emadziya@hockeycanada.ca 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

ssharkey@hockeycanada.ca

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

jknight@hockeycanada.ca

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