Controversy Mars Canada’s Hlinka Gretzky Triumph

The semi final round of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup featured a clash for the ages at Rogers Place in Edmonton, as Canada and the United States saw their under-18 national teams battle for a spot in the gold medal game. But controversy surrounding a late tying goal will likely loom large over Canada’s thrilling 6-5 overtime victory.

Trailing 5-4 with the clock running down, Canadian forward Dylan Cozens took a pass from Bowen Byram in the slot and fired the puck towards the net. The shot beat American goaltender Dustin Wolf to tie the game at 5-5. The only problem? Television replays appeared to show that the clock had already run out before the puck crossed the line.

No Review Means A Good Goal

Upon reviewing the broadcast replay, TSN commentator Gord Miller explained: “It’s a goal. It shouldn’t be, but it’s a goal.” The other TSN broadcaster, Craig Button, added: “We have clear evidence that it went in after time expired.” With no mechanisms available to them to review the play, the on-ice officials ruled it a goal and sent the game to overtime. Canada’s Josh Williams scored his second goal of the game at 1:44 of overtime to win it for Canada.

“Prior to the competition, at the directorate meeting, it was decided there would be no video review because the three venues being used don’t all have that capacity,” said Hockey Canada president and CEO Tom Renney, via “In the best interest of consistency and fairness throughout all three venues, it was decided by all teams — and signed off on — that the officials on the ice would make that call, as they did tonight.

Dylan Cozens Lethbridge Hurricanes
Lethbridge Hurricanes star Dylan Cozens tied the Hlinka Gretzky Cup semi-final game, but not without some controversy. (Robert Murray/WHL)

Alexis Lafreniere, Jamieson Rees and Xavier Parent had Canada’s other three goals. Nick Robertson had a hat trick for the USA, with Aaron Huglen and Luke Toporowski adding the other American goals. Canada advances to meet Sweden in the gold medal game, while the USA meets Russia for bronze.

A Tournament’s Growing Pains

The Hlinka Gretzky Cup is in its first year in Canada as part of a multi-year partnership that also sees the event in Canada in 2020 and 2022. The games have been played at Rogers Place and Edmonton Community Arena in downtown Edmonton, and Servus Arena in nearby Red Deer. As a National Hockey League arena Rogers Place has full replay capabilities, but the other two arenas reportedly do not.

It’s worth noting that none of the European arenas that hosted the prior installments of the Hlinka Grezky Cup reportedly had replay capabilities, putting the 2018 edition on equal footing with others in the history of the tournament. However, the increased exposure of the event as it has moved to North America – including games broadcast to a prime time audience on national television (on TSN in Canada and the NHL Network in the United States) – has brought along with it increased scrutiny.

Undoubtedly there will be a post-mortem of the tournament’s strengths and weaknesses following its conclusion and the dramatic semi-final finish will likely play into it. It’s a shame that such a situation may hang over the tournament, as it’s really nobody’s fault – the players on both teams played admirably, while the officials were constrained by the rules that the participating teams all agreed upon. It remains to be seen whether any changes will be made to goal reviews, either for the 2019 edition back in the Czech Republic and Slovakia or 2020’s return to Canada.