Hrabal comes up big on Day Four of Hlinka Gretzky Cup
Michael Hrabal saved his best for the last game of group stage action at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Hrabal stood on his head by stopping 34 of 35 shots to secure the victory against the American squad and help Czechia advance to the semi-finals at the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup on Friday. Team USA applied pressure throughout the game, but Hrabal turned away the onslaught and his team went perfect on the penalty kill.
Slovakia was also victorious, pulling off an overtime win against Switzerland thanks to the heroics of Adam Cedzo. Cedzo buried a shot 1:53 into the extra frame to help his team finally get their first win of the tournament. Slovak goaltender Samuel Urban also had a strong game, turning away 32 of 34 shots to keep his team in contention.
The Canadians finished the round-robin portion of the tournament a perfect 3-0 by blanking Sweden in each team’s tune-up for the semifinals. Calum Ritchie and Brayden Yager both put an exclamation mark on their portion of the tournament by each posting two points (one goal, one assist). Scott Ratzlaff made 18 saves to secure the shutout for Canada.
Canada will face Finland in the first semifinal; Sweden will play Czechia in the second. Each game will be played Friday.
3RD STAR: CALUM RITCHIE – CANADA
Ritchie provided some much needed offense against a strong Sweden team, scoring the first goal of the game — which also turned out to be the game winner. He added an assist at the end of the second period on a Yager goal to put Canada in a comfortable position heading into the third period. Ritchie finished the tournament with eight points (six goals, two assists) in three games, tied for first overall.
“He is a cut above most of the talent at this tournament and he continued to assault the scoresheet against Sweden,” FCHockey scout Donesh Mazloum said. “He’s an extremely difficult player to lock down as he has so many weapons at his disposal and punishes even the smallest mistakes.”
2ND STAR: ADAM CEDZO – SLOVAKIA
Cedzo scored two goals, including the overtime winner, in a tight game versus Switzerland on the fourth day of the Hlinka. He ended the tournament with only two points, both from the two goals from this final game. The young Slovak is not the biggest player, listed at 5-foot-10 and 163 pounds, but showed a hard-working and tenacious spirit. He managed to evade defensive coverage in overtime to bury a nice pass while standing near the crease.
“The Slovaks looked gassed in this game after being run ragged against Canada less than 24 hours earlier. Thankfully, the diminutive Cedzo and his endless reserves of energy came to the rescue,” Mazloum said. “What he lacks in pure skill he makes up for in effort and resilience and that’s just what the Slovaks needed in this game.”
1ST STAR: MICHAEL HRABAL – CZECHIA
Hrabal helped his draft stock by having a great Hlinka Gretzky Cup and ending it with a nice victory against the Americans on the final day of the round robin portion. He displayed some great mobility and positional play in net throughout the entire game. The 6-foot-6 goaltender has a 2-0 record with a 1.92 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage against some stiff competition at the Hlinka.
“Hrabal has anchored the Czechs’ undefeated run through the group stage with sparkling stats,” Mazloum said. “I think the greatest compliment a goalie can receive is noticeable frustration by the opponent and in that respect he certainly got under the skin of the Americans in this game. No matter what they threw at him, he had an answer.”
DAY ONE: WHITELAW SHINES ON DAY ONE OF HLINKA GRETZKY CUP
DAY TWO: SALE CONTINUES STRONG PLAY ON DAY TWO AT HLINKA GRETZKY CUP
DAY THREE: THEO LINDSTEIN SHOWS STRONG PLAY ON DAY THREE OF HLINKA
DAY FOUR: THEO LINDSTEIN SHOWS STRONG PLAY ON DAY THREE OF HLINKA