by Amy Johnson, Lead Correspondent, AHL Report
PLYMOUTH, MI — The World Junior Summer Showcase continued on Friday as the tournament rotation brought Team Canada against Team Sweden and Team USA against Team Finland.
After having a day off from games on Thursday, all four teams took the ice with plenty of energy as each country looked to settle into their newly formed rosters. Canada and Sweden faced off first and played a steady 40 minutes as they evaluated each other. Timothy Liljegren (SWE) and Sam Steel (CAN) each got their teams on the board in the opening frame.
In the second period, Canada found mesh two more times as Jordan Kyrou and Jonathan Ang scored back-to-back goals. Sweden didn’t sit back, however, and evened the score before intermission with goals by Lias Andersson and Axel Jonsson Fjallby.
Sweden continued their scoring streak just two minutes into the third period with a goal by Frederick Karlstrom, but it was all Canada after that. Cale Makar tied the game once again, and then Kyrou potted a power play goal to put his ahead 5-4. Logan Stanley and Matthew Phillips each had even strength goals to bring the final tally to 7-4.
For Habs fan, Victor Mete and Will Bitten both played in this game, with Mete earning an assist on Kyrou’s power play goal. Both players were aggressive on the ice, skated well, and had good positioning in their shifts.
In the USA vs Finland game, the pace seemed to slow down just a bit. Casey Mittelstadt and Kailer Yamamoto were healthy scratches to allow for some personnel rotation. After an early goal by Adam Fox (USA), assisted by Ryan Poehling and Brady Tkachuk, the two teams seemed to go back and forth down the ice quite a bit with plenty of turnovers and no real assertiveness.
The second period was all Finland, who outshot the Americans 15-6 in the frame. They tied the game with an even strength goal by Robin Salo, followed by two more goals from Otto Koivula and Janne Juokkanen.
At times, despite the fact that they were holding a 3-1 lead, the Fins used four forwards on some shifts. Canadiens prospect Joni Ikonen was often that fourth forward, showing that the coaches trust his defensive capabilities as well.
Before the horn sounded for the second intermission, Fox scored his second of the game to bring Team USA back within one goal. In the final frame, Finland rested on their laurels a bit – something they’ve been known to do when taking a lead into the final period – and the Americans took full advantage.
Riley Tufte tied the game at 3-3 about halfway through the period, assisted by Patrick Harper and Poehling. That assist marked Poehling’s third of the game, who had a tremendous showing centering the first line between Tkachuk and Joey Anderson. Team USA downed Finland with 4-3 as the final score.
All four teams get right back to work on Saturday to wrap up the Summer Showcase. The Swedes and Fins will face each other for the first time this week at 4:00pm EST, and the headline game will be a primetime matchup between Canada and the US at 7:00pm EST.