Mississauga, Oakville, Oshawa stars help Canada strike gold at Hlinka/Gretzky Cup

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Published August 7, 2023 at 3:42 pm

Mississauga’s Malcolm Spence scored the sudden death winner with seven seconds left in overtime Saturday to lead Canada to the gold medal over co-host Czech Republic at the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

Spence, who plays for Erie in the OHL, played hero when he stole the puck off a Czech defender to score the golden goal to give Canada its second straight tournament win and 24th gold medal in men’s summer under-18 play since 1991.

“I knew it was late in overtime and I knew [the Czechs] were tired because they were keeping a fast pace. I knew the [Czech defender] was on for quite a bit of time and that I could pick his pocket if I moved my feet, so that is what I did,” Spence said. “This is the best moment of my life and nothing will ever beat this. I cannot thank everyone who was involved with this team enough. I am just so happy.”

Porter Martone, who plays for the Mississauga Steelheads, set up Canada’s first goal of the game and captain Berkly Catton of Saskatoon, who scored in every game of the tournament, gave Canada the lead midway through the second period.

Matej Kubiesa evened the score for Czechia with less than five minutes remaining in the third to send the game to overtime.

Canada finished the preliminary round in first place in Group B after a loss to Finland (9-6) and wins over Slovakia (14-4) and Switzerland (5-0). It earned its spot in the gold medal game with a 7-2 win over the United States in the semifinals.

Catton led all tournament scorers with 11 points and eight goals, while Ryder Ritchie (Calgary), and Oakville’s Michael Misa, who plays for Saginaw, tied for the assist lead with six.

Ben Danford of the Oshawa Generals was a fixture on Team Canada’s blueline in all four games while Oshawa’s Liam Greentree, who plays for Windsor, played in two of Canada’s games.

Mississauga Steelhead goaltender Ryerson Leenders backed-up Carter George in the tournament. George won all four games for Canada.

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