As if you didn’t have enough reasons to watch Canada’s team competing for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, let me introduce you to Scott Ratzlaff, one of three goaltenders holding down the fort in Red Deer.

Eligible for the 2023 NHL Draft, Ratzlaff just came off his first full season with the Western Hockey League’s Seattle Thunderbirds. By the numbers, it’s clear that Ratzlaff was a solid contribution to the Thunderbirds goaltending tandem, posting a 2.48 goals against average (GAA), a .904 save percentage (SV%), and one shutout (SO) through 22 games played. Though he didn’t get any ice time in Seattle’s eventual run to the Ed Chynoweth Cup final, Ratzlaff certainly garnered enough attention to get the call to participate in one of the top competitions for NHL prospects.

Scott Ratzlaff By the Numbers

Through four starts for Team Canada, Ratzlaff garnered a 0.50 GAA, a .976 SV%, two shutouts, and a perfect record (4-0-0) — but that’s not all the Irma native has done. His first start of the tournament, he notched an assist on a shorthanded goal scored by Colby Barlow and a shutout in Canada’s first preliminary game.

In his second start, Ratzlaff held down the fort once again to earn his second shutout in Canada’s 3-0 victory over Sweden in Canada’s third preliminary game.

His third start was where Ratzlaff’s shutout streak was unfortunately broken, but through 24 shots, he only let in a single goal — a .958 SV% over three periods, if you will. That single goal from Finland came in the final 18 seconds of the game, but Canada had punched their ticket to the final with a 4-1 win over Finland. Additionally, Ratzlaff was named Canadian Player of the Game for his skill in net.

Following their 4-1 win over Finland in the semifinal, Team Canada moved on to the gold medal game against Sweden on Saturday. Ratzlaff was between the pipes once again for his final start of the tournament, where he stopped 24 of 25 shots (.962 SV%) to secure Canada’s gold medal at home.

By the Plays

Though there isn’t much video available regarding Ratzlaff’s play in the tournament thus far, you can see elements of his game with Seattle in the way he’s playing in Red Deer.

In the gold medal game, Ratzlaff made a reach of a toe save to preserve Canada’s lead in the middle of a high-octane game. Such saves are pretty standard in Ratzlaff’s repertoire, as he had made a similar save against Spokane back in February.

Ratzlaff’s quickness under pressure has led him to make some pretty “he-shouldn’t-be-able-to-make-that” saves in his time with the Thunderbirds. He manages the chaos of the moment by keeping his eye on the puck while moving quickly enough to ensure it doesn’t move past him and over the goal line. While it might be easy to let the high amount of net-front traffic to blur his vision, Ratzlaff is able to zero in on the path of the puck and make the snap save just in time.

A Look Ahead to Next Season

While the Hlinka Gretzky Cup is only one of many preseason activities moving into the next season, it’s frequently a great indicator of what’s to come for these young draft-eligible players, and Scott Ratzlaff is no exception.

With his continued success in net proving a hard work ethic both on and off the ice, he’ll be a great asset for the Thunderbirds moving into his first year of draft eligibility.

By Maddie Dutra

Covering the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds for Area 51 Sports Network—Goalie lover and sports photography enthusiast, among other things.

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