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Aug. 12, 2018

EDMONTON, Alta. – Halifaxs Justin Barron is a world champion.

Barron was a part of the Canadian contingent that topped Sweden 6-2 on Saturday night to win the gold medal at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Edmonton, Alta. The Halifax Mooseheads defenceman, the youngest player on the Canadian roster, finished the tournament tied for the scoring lead among blue-liners with five assists in five games.

(PHOTO: Codie McLachlan/CP)

Sasha Mutala (Vancouver, B.C./Tri-City, WHL) and Alexis Lafrenière (St-Eustache, Que./Rimouski, QMJHL) had two goals apiece, helping Canada score the game’s final six goals.

It’s the third consecutive time Canada has won gold at the annual summer under-18 tournament, and the 22nd time in 28 events since 1991.

Kirby Dach (Fort Saskatchewan, Alta./Saskatoon, WHL) and Josh Williams (Langley, B.C./Medicine Hat, WHL) had the other goals for the Canadians, who trailed 2-0 less than 12 minutes in, but rallied to take the lead before the end of the first period.

Taylor Gauthier (Calgary, Alta./Prince George, WHL) stopped all 16 shots he faced in relief of Nolan Maier (Yorkton, Sask./Saskatoon, WHL), who lasted only 11 minutes.

Lucas Raymond needed just 42 seconds to get the Swedes on the board, rifling a shot under the cross-bar past Maier for an early power-play goal, and Alexander Holtz chased the Canadian goaltender at 11:33 with another shot upstairs.

Mutala replied just 41 seconds after the Holtz goal, getting his stick on a shot from Bowen Byram (Cranbrook, B.C./Vancouver, WHL) and Dach tipped in a Lafrenière shot 2:21 after that to tie the game.

Lafrenière scored one of the goals of the tournament to put Canada ahead for good, going end to end and dancing through the Swedes before beating netminder Hugo Alnefelt late in the opening frame.

The Swedes kept Gauthier busy in the second period, directing 10 shots at the Canadian puck-stopper. His best save of the game came midway through the middle stanza, stretching to his left to rob Holtz.

Mutala gave Canada some breathing room without using his stick; he was parked in front of Alnefelt when a Dylan Holloway (Bragg Creek, Alta./Okotoks, AJHL) shot banked off his cage and in for a 4-2 advantage after 40 minutes.

Canada’s co-leading goal scorers provided the offence in the third period.

Williams made it 5-2 on a beautiful give-and-go with Ryan Suzuki (London, Ont./Barrie, OHL) five minutes into the final frame before Lafrenière banked a shot off the end-boards, off the skate of Alnefelt and in to finish the scoring at 13:54.

Barron, a steady prescence on the Canadian blue line throughout the event, doesn't turn 17 until November and is not draft eligible until the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

Hockey Nova Scotia would like to congratulate Justin on capturing Hlinka Gretzky Cup gold and wish him the best of luck in his hockey future.

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