Colorado Avalanche prospects Cale Makar and Conor Timmins traded their burgundy sweaters for bright red ones as the defensemen competed for Team Canada at the World Junior Summer Showcase this past week in Plymouth, Michigan.
The week-long summer showcase gave fans a much-needed fresh taste of hockey as the start of the NHL season looms right around the corner. The annual exhibition also served as a first opportunity for coaches and staff to assess players prior to training camp in December. That is when Team Canada's final roster for the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship will be determined.
The exhibition started with split squads for both Hockey Canada and USA Hockey on Tuesday. Timmins played for Canada Red, and he registered one shot during an 8-2 loss to USA White.
Timmins played in two more matches over the following three days. The St. Catharines, Ontario, native appeared in the full-squad match on Wednesday against Finland, where Canada won 6-5 in overtime. The blueliner also played on Friday in Team Canada's battle against Sweden where it toppled the Swedes 7-4.
On Tuesday, Makar skated for Canada White and helped the team to a 2-1 victory over USA Blue. The defenseman's two-way style stood out as he performed well on both sides of the rink. The Calgary, Alberta, native had three shots on goal, finishing the game tied for second among his Canada White teammates in that category.
Makar had another impressive game in Canada's full-squad clash against Sweden on Friday. In the third period, Team Canada was down 4-3 until Makar scored on a wrist shot to tie the contest up. The goal reinvigorated the Canadians, and they went on to register a 7-4 win.
Makar's solid performance carried into the last game of the event as Canada faced USA's final squad of the exhibition. Though the Canadians were ousted 7-5 by the United States on Saturday, Makar recorded one assist and finished the outing with a plus-1 rating.
The showcase provided a space for the two Avalanche prospects to demonstrate their current defensive skills and to gain more experience in the international spotlight. The blueliners made an impact both on and off the stat sheet in the multiple games they appeared in.
The 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship will take place from Dec. 26, 2017 to Jan. 5, 2018 in Buffalo, New York. Canada and USA will meet again on Dec. 29, 2017, when the two squads face off at New Era Field in the first outdoor game in tournament history.