According to the Hockey Canada website on Friday, Canada has advanced to the final against the Czech Republic of the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Hockey Tournament in Europe on Saturday. In the semi-final game on Friday from Piestany, Slovakia, Calgary native Nick Merkley of the Kelowna Rockets registered two assists as Canada thumped the United States 11-5.
Merkley, a center, was one of 11 Canadian players who registered a multi-point game. The other 10 Canadian players were Guillaume Brisebois, Jansen Harkins, Mathew Barzal, Tyler Soy, Mitchell Marner, Travis Konecny, Dallas Strome, Graham Knott, Mitchell Stephens and Connor Hobbs. Strome, Harkins and Stephens each had three points with Strome registering a hat trick.
Merkley's first assist came on Canada's fourth goal of the hockey game at 8:15 of the second period. The goal was an even strength marker by Barzal, a Coquitlam, British Columbia native who plays for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League.
Merkley's second assist came on Canada's 11th goal with 43 seconds left in the third period. The goal was also an even strength marker with this one scored by Soy, a Surrey, British Columbia native who plays for the WHL's Victoria Royals.
Meanwhile, Calgary native Zachary Sawchenko got the victory, but struggled in net as he made 24 saves on 29 shots. Sawchenko has now given up seven goals in three games. The Czech Republic beat Sweden 4-3 in Friday's other semi-final. The gold medal game will be in Piestany, Czech Republic.
Canada has won the tournament 18 times. They were first victorious in 1992 and again in 1994. They then won each year from 1996-2002, three consecutive years from 2004-2006 and the last six Ivan Hlinka Memorial events. Since the tournament began in 1991 under the initial name of the Under-18 Junior World Cup, Russia/Soviet Union won in 1991, 1993 and 1995, the United States won in 2003 and Sweden won in 2007.