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Prospects off to Flying Start at WJC Showcase

Updates on USA's Cates, Farabee, O'Brien in game action

by @NHLFlyers

The 2018 World Junior Summer Showcase is underway in Kamloops, British Columbia. Eight Flyers prospects are participating in the hopes of taking the first big step toward earning roster spots on their respective national teams for the 2018-19 World Junior Championships.

On Monday, the first two games of the tournament were played at the Sandman Centre. The latter game, involving the three Flyers forward prospects vying for spots on Team USA, pitted Finland against the USA White half of the American split squad. USA White prevailed, 5-2.

All three Flyers prospects on USA Blue -- 2018 first-round picks Joel Farabee and Jay O'Brien plus 2017 fifth-round pick Noah Cates -- got onto the scoresheet in the tourney opener.

Farabee skated left wing on a unit with his usual linemates the USNTDP program, centered by Jack Hughes with Oliver Wahlstrom on right wing. O'Brien centered a line with Cates on left wing and Cole Coskey (one goal, one assist) on right wing.

USA Blue built a quick 2-0 lead in the opening 6:44 of the game. University of Minnesota Duluth forward Cates assisted on a Coskey goal just 2:06 into the contest before New York Islanders defense prospect Ben Mirageas added to the lead. 

The Finns narrowed the gap to 2-1 late in the first period on a power play goal by New Jersey Devils prospect Aarne Talvitie. USA Blue answered back two shifts later as Farabee set up LA Kings defense prospect Mikey Anderson for a goal with 22 seconds left in the opening period to send the American side to intermission with a 3-1 lead on the scoreboard and a 15-8 shot advantage.

The middle frame was scoreless but USA Blue dominated to the tune of a 17-4 shot on goal advantage. The latter portion of the second period and early third was filled with penalty calls. Cates, Farabee and O'Brien were among the USA Blue players who took trips to the box, with O'Brien and Finnish defenseman Otto Latvala getting coincidental roughing penalties after the whistle on an initial hooking penalty on Farabee.

The 3-1 score held until the final five minutes of the game. O'Brien assisted on a goal by Nashville Predators prospect Grant Mishmash (one goal, one assist) at 15:14 to open a 4-1 advantage. With O'Brien subsequently in the penalty box for hooking, Finnish forward Erkka Seppälä scored on the power play to narrow the gap back to two goals.

The Finns pulled goalie Lassi Lehtinen for a 6-on-5 attack. With time ticking down under the final 20 seconds, O'Brien registered his second assist of the game as he set up Minnesota Wild prospect Ivan Lodnia for an empty-net goal to close out the final 5-2 margin of victory.

On Tuesday, USA White takes on the Canada Red half of the Team Canada split squad. Both Flyers 2017 first-round pick Morgan Frost and 2017 second-round pick Isaac Ratcliffe were assigned to Canada Red. On Monday, Frost practiced on Canada Red's top power play unit while Ratcliffe practiced as part of the penalty killing rotation.

Monday's earlier game featured Team USA Blue against Sweden. The Swedes overcame a 1-0 deficit after an evenly played first period to control most of the middle frame (15-6 shot edge, three power plays) and tie the game. The game remained knotted at 1-1 through much of the third period before the Junior Crowns scored twice -- once at even strength and once shorthanded -- in the final six minutes to skate to a 3-1 win.

Flyers forward prospect Olle Lycksell, a 2016 sixth-round pick, skated left wing on a line centered by Anaheim Ducks 2018 first-round pick Isac Lundeström with Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Emil Bemström on right wing. Adam Ginning, the Flyers' 2018 second-round pick, was paired on defense with New York Rangers 2018 first-round pick Nils Lundqvist. Flyers goaltending prospect Samuel Ersson did not play in the opener, serving as a backup to Anaheim Ducks prospect Olle Eriksson Ek (26 saves on 27 shots).

On Tuesday, Sweden takes on Finland in the first of three games on the docket at the Sandman Centre. Subsequently, Canada White will play USA Blue before the final game pitting the three Flyers-affiliated Americans on USA White take on Frost, Ratcliffe and the rest of Canada Red. 

Wednesday will be an off-day in terms of game action but both USA and Canada will pare down their respective split-squad rosters into single teams. On Thursday, Team USA plays Sweden and Canada opposes Finland. On Friday, USA faces off against Finland while Team Canada plays Sweden.

The tourney wraps up on Saturday with two "rivalry game" showdowns: Canada vs USA and Sweden vs. Finland.

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