Hlinka-Gretzky Cup Roundup: Tournament Begins with Michkov Taking Center Stage

Top 2023 NHL draft prospect Matvei Michkov continues to dominate every tournament he plays in, with the Russian star recording four points on Day 1 of the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. Plus, Slovakia shocks USA, the Czechs have a perfect opener and Germany gave Sweden a run for its money.
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Matvei Michkov Takes Over Against Finland

Expecting anything other than greatness from Matvei Michkov is silly. So his four-point effort in a 5-2 win over Finland is exactly what you should expect from the Russian scoring star that's going to make an NHL team very happy after the 2023 draft. 

Michkov helped set the opening goal up at 7:24. Ivan Kvochko scored on the man advantage, with Michkov's shot getting stopped in front, only to have Kvochko knock in the rebound. Michkov scored on the power-play at 9:29 after his wrist shot beat Niklas Kokko up high, sending the water bottle flying after taking his patented wrist shot. Michkov would find Mikhail Gulyaev sneaking in through the high slot, with Gulyaev opening the scoring in the third, only to have Michkov score an empty-netter from the neutral zone to cap off his four-point night.

Finland tied the game twice on Monday, starting with Joakim Kemell's goal at 17:43 in the first. Topi Ronni also potted a goal, scoring a power-play marker of his own 20:10 afterward to force a 2-2 tie heading into the third. That's when Michkov added two points, with Gleb Trikozov scoring an empty-netter with 27 seconds left in the battle to finish off the game for the Russians. 

Slovaks Upset Americans in Big Victory

Even though the United States doesn't bring its top players to the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, it's hard to bet against them in a matchup like this. But Slovakia wasn't too concerned about pre-game narratives and skated away with a big 5-2 win.

The win was a big one for Slovakia, who hasn't medaled in the tournament since 1998. Slovakia is currently in the midst of a strong youth revolution, with a handful of top prospects representing the country at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup.

The game was as dominant of a start as you could ask for out of the Slovaks. Just 41 seconds into the battle, Peter Repcik scored on the man advantage after some passes from Juraj Slafkovsky and Filip Mesar. Dalibor Dvorak scored his first of three goals just over a minute later at the doorstep and Slafkovsky scored on a great individual effort at 3:12 to put the Americans down at a point they weren't going to be able to recover from.

The Americans outscored Slovakia 2-1 in the second period, but an early power-play goal from Dvorsky put USA in a bad spot. Zam Plante finally scored for USA at 25:45 when he poked a point shot past Ratislav Elias and the goal line to make it 4-1. Johan Aegerter scored late in the period, but a third goal from Dvorsky put USA way out of contention for a game they were definitely outplayed in.

Germany Puts Up a Big Fight Against Sweden

Well, that was unexpected. Germany, added to the tournament for the first time after Canada decided to not attend, led 3-2 heading into the third period, but Sweden proved to be too much in a 5-3 victory to open the tournament.

The game started off strong for the Swedes, taking a 2-0 lead into the opening break. Jonathan Lekkerimaki scored the opening goal on the man advantage at 2:37, taking a quick shot with free real estate to make it 1-0. Liam Öhgren scored his first of two on the day after faking a pass and instead beat German goaltender Matthias Bittner through the wickets to make it 2-0.

But the Swedes found themselves sleeping at the wheel and Germany took advantage of it. Matthias Pischoff scored Germany's first of the tournament at 3:38 in the second on the breakaway, only to have Moritz Elias tie things up a few minutes later. The second period remained tied until Roman Kechter stole the puck at the Swedish blueline while shorthanded and beat the Swedish netminder for the 3-2 goal, giving the Germans full momentum heading into the final period of play.

But that's where the fun ended for Germany. Öhgren scored his second of the day at 1:07 to take away Germany's energy, with Tim Almgren scoring at 2:41 to put the Swedes back in charge. Germany had some chances throughout the third period but Leo Carlsson scored an empty-net shorthanded goal to seal the deal.

Czechs Celebrate at Home With Opening Shutout

Goaltender Jan Spunar stopped everything sent his way and three different players scored goals as the Czech Republic beat Switzerland 3-0 to open up play in Breclav, CZE.

Two goals in the opening period put the Czechs in a good position. Jiri Kulich's shot proved to be too much for Diego Simmeoni and Dominik Petr, a top prospect for 2023, scored the team's second of the frame to make it 2-0. Adam Bares scored the lone goal of the second, and the goaltenders did the rest of the work in the third as the game would sit at 3-0.

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Three Stars

1. Matvei Michkov, RW (RUS): Two goals and two assists for a player coming off of an incredible U-18 World Hockey Championship performance. We didn't expect anything less from the top 2023 NHL draft prospect.

2. Dalibor Dvorsky, C (SVK): With three goals, Dvorsky kept finding himself in the right spot at the right time. Huge game for the centerman in an upset win over the Americans.

3. Liam Öhgren, LW (SWE): Two goals, including the opener and the game-tying marker, put Sweden in a good spot in a game they likely expected to dominate.

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August 3 Schedule

USA vs. Sweden - 9:30 AM ET 
Switzerland vs. Russia - 9:30 AM ET 
Czech Republic vs. Finland - 1:00 PM ET 
Slovakia vs. Germany - 1:00 PM ET

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