PLYMOUTH, Mich. – On the penultimate day of the World Junior Summer Showcase, the Buffalo Sabres prospects rested.
It was sheer coincidence that all four players drafted by the Sabres were sitting out Friday's games at USA Hockey Arena.
Casey Mittelstadt, the Sabres first-round choice this past June, was a healthy scratch for the U.S. Cliff Pu, a third-round pick in 2016, sat out for Canada while Marcus Davidsson, picked in the second round in June, was scratched for Sweden. Meanwhile goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen played the backup role for Finland.
Read nothing into the scratches. The showcase is an opportunity for coaches to evaluate talent and get a feel for guys in different roles as teams prepare to create their rosters for December's IIHF Men's World Junior Championships in Buffalo.
For the U.S., it was a strong first and third period which helped them rally from a two-goal deficit for a 4-3 win over Finland. Adam Fox, a third-round pick by Calgary in 2016, scored twice for the United States while David Farrance (Nashville) had an end-to-end rush for the game-winner in a 4-3 win over Finland.
Fox opened the scoring 3:16 into the game to give the Americans a 1-0 lead.
But the second period was all Finland, which held a 15-6 advantage in shots. It started when the U.S. was on a power play when they were going to be called for a tripping penalty. But Finland had possession, and kept possession for quite some time. A shot from Robin Salo (New York Islanders) went off the glove of American goalie Jake Oettinger (Dallas) 4:28 into the period to tie the game.
Otto Koivula (New York Islanders) and Janne Kuokkanen (Carolina) scored as Finland built a 3-1 lead.
With 1:03 left in the second Fox picked the upper corner of the net to get the U.S. back on track.
The U.S. tied the game in the third when Riley Tufte (Dallas) put in a pass from Patrick Harper (Nashville) with 9:34 remaining. An end-to-end rush by Farrance completed the comeback as he tucked in a power-play goal with 6:10 left in regulation to give the U.S. the win.
"The first period, I really liked," U.S. coach Bob Motzko said. "We had good energy. We were winning puck battles down low. We had continuity with our lines. We were talking on the bench. Everything was going.
"Somehow we got unplugged in the second period. ... Then in the third period we had a push again. Played hard. Made a play. They battled back and found a way to win. And it's not an excuse but you do chalk some of it up to summer hockey. Because we're not coaching mistakes. We're not coaching any systems. There's things you know that will be easily corrected. It's an evaluation camp.
Canada 7, Sweden 4
After falling behind, 1-0, and giving up a two-goal lead, Canada had a strong third period to defeat Sweden, 7-4.
"I think for a summer game it was a really good game," Canadian coach Dominique Ducharme said. "The pace of the game for 60 minutes was really high, the intensity. I thought we were executing much better. We can see the guys are slowly getting their feelings. We were pretty happy. Obviously it was not perfect but I like the engagement of our team. I like the way we played."
The first period ended 1-1. Sweden took the lead with a goal from Timothy Liljegren (Toronto) while Canada tied the game on a goal from Sam Steel (Anaheim).
Canada took a 3-1 lead early in the second period with Jordan Kyrou (St. Louis) scoring on the power play and Jonathan Ang (Florida) adding a tally less than two minutes later.
But Sweden came back. Lias Andersson (New York Rangers) scored on the power play and Axel Jonsson Fjallby (Washington) tied the game at 12:06.
The back-and-forth affair continued in the third. Sweden took a 4-3 lead just two minutes into the period when Fredrick Karlstrom (Dallas) scored. Canada again tied the game at 4:43 on a goal from Cal Makar (Colorado).
The second tally of the game for Kyrou, scored on a 5-on-3 power play, proved to be the game-winner for Canada.
Logan Stanley (Winnipeg) added a goal for Canada at 14:23 while Matthew Phillips (Calgary) scored an empty-netter with 5.3 seconds left to secure the win.