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WJC Notebook: Analysis through first three games

Meltzer's take on the Flyers prospects at the World Juniors

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer

The round-robin preliminary round of the 2019 World Junior Championships has one game to go for the participating teams. Here is a synopsis of how the seven Flyers prospects in the tournament have fared to date.

 

Noah Cates (F - USA) 
(5th round, 137th overall - 2017)

The University of Minnesota-Duluth freshman has quietly had a solid tournament, displaying a strong hockey IQ. His skating is still a work in progress. Cates received 15:41 of ice time (21 shifts) in Team USA's opening game 2-1 win against Slovakia, 14:11 TOI (20 shifts) in an 8-1 rout of Kazakhstan and 14:41 TOI (26 shifts) in the Americans' dramatic comeback game against Sweden on Saturday, which resulted in a 5-4 overtime loss.

Cates was initially credited with a secondary assist on the Americans' first goal in the Slovakia game but the scoring was later changed on the play. Through three games, he has seven shots on goal. Cates drew a third-period penalty on the Swedes in Saturday's game.

Samuel Ersson (G - Sweden)
(5th round, 143rd overall - 2018)

The 19-year-old Ersson played stellar hockey in Team Sweden's 2-1 win over archrival Finland and 5-2 victory over Slovakia. As a result, even with Olle Eriksson Ek eligible to return from a two-game IIHF suspension, Ersson was tabbed to start against Team USA on Saturday.

For 50 minutes against Team USA, Ersson was impenetrable and the Swedish team was largely dominant in building a 4-0 lead. Finally, Ersson was beaten through the five-hole on a Mikey Anderson one-timer from the right side. Ersson read the play and got over in time but couldn't seal his pads in time and the puck leaked through into the net. 

The rest of the period was a nightmare for Sweden. Another penalty led to a second power play goal; an unstoppable point-blank goal by Ryan Poehling. The Americans got back within a goal as they pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker. The Swedes fell back into an overly passive defensive shell, and overrelied on blocked shots and saves from Ersson without ever having a realistic chance to clear the puck. Finally, Poehling got open, received the puck and scored a nearly unstoppable back-door goal.

With 37 seconds left on the third period clock, a turnover by Flyers prospect Adam Ginning directly onto the stick of fellow Flyers prospect Joel Farabee rapidly turned into the game-tying goal. Farabee passed to Poehling, who sniped one upstairs from the right circle to force overtime.

In the extra frame, Ersson authored a pair of excellent saves to prolong the game before teammate Adam Ersson capitalized on a Farabee miscue to win the game for the Swedes. 

Despite the four late goals, Ersson was named Player of the Game for Sweden for his work over the first 50 minutes and in OT. 

Through three games, Ersson is 3-0-0 with a 2.28 GAA and .914 save percentage. Sweden wraps up the preliminary round against Kazakhstan on New Year's Eve.

 

Joel Farabee (F - USA)
(1st round, 14th overall - 2018)

The 18-year-old Flyers 2018 first-round pick from Cicero, New York (with Bucks County, PA roots on his father's side) racked up a natural hat trick in the first period of the 8-1 pummeling of Kazahkstan. 

For the night, Farabee finished with five shots on goal,21 shifts (16:46 TOI) and five shots on goal. He won Player of the Game honors for Team USA. Farabee's regular linemate and projected 1st overall pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, Jack Hughes, was scratched on Friday and Saturday with an upper-body injury. Hughes is still officially considered day-to-day.

In the game against Sweden, Farabee finished with one assist, three shots on goal and an even plus/minus over 25 shifts (22:17 TOI). He set up Poehling for the last-minute tally that forced overtime. In OT, Farabee had the game on his stick but hesitated just long enough to get his shot attempt blocked out of play, then had a miscue as play resumed. Sweden won the game as Boqvist scored on a counterrush. 

Through three games, Farabee ranks in the tournament top 10 in scoring with three goals and four points.

 

Morgan Frost (F - Canada)
(1st round, 27th overall - 2017)

The 19-year-old Flyers 2017 first-round pick from Aurora, Ontario, leads all players in the tournament scoring race with his seven points (4g-3a) in three games. Normally a center on the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Frost has done it while playing left wing at even strength and the right half wall on the power play (he lines up on the opposite side on the Greyhounds' power play). 

It only took about 22 minutes of game action in the opener against Denmark for Frost to rack up a hat trick and a primary assist. He figured in four of the Canadian side's first five goals en route to a 14-0 rout. 

Frost opened the scoring at 4:53 of the first period, making the Danes pay for a turnover near their blueline as he took a pass from Brett Leason and slid the puck under the left pad of goaltender Mads Soegaard. At 8:32 of the first period, Frost made a beautiful cross-ice feed to Owen Tippett for a slam dunk near the left post. Frost later sent Canada to the first intermission with a 3-0 lead. At 19:17, Frost used a defenseman as a screen from above the left hash marks and fired a wrister off the short-side post and into the net. 

In Canada's second game, a 3-2 win over pesky Switzerland, Frost appeared shaken up at one point remained in the game. He skated 15:15 overall across 23 shifts. In Saturday's 5-1 win over the Czech Republic, Frost was dominant at times with the puck although he was seen on the bench in the third period icing a sore wrist between shifts. 

Frost collected two points against the Czechs: a power play assist on the goal that made it 2-1, sending a puck from the right circle to the point for a shot that deflected home and, later a power play goal of his own, as he found a seam, received a tape-to-tape feed from Nick Suzuki and buried a shot into a half-vacant cage. Canada improved to 3-0-0 with a New Year's Eve game against Russia looming to conclude pool play.

 

Adam Ginning (D - Sweden)
(2nd round, 50th overall - 2018)

The 18-year old Flyers 2018 second-round pick has seen regular penalty killing time for the Swedes in the tournament as well as third-pairing duties on a pairing with 2018 New York Rangers first-round pick Nils Lundkvist.

Ginning had a very solid game against USA right up until his giveaway in the final minute that resulted in the game-tying goal. Overall, Ginning skated 30 shifts (18:33 TOI) with one shot on goal and an even plus/minus. He played 13:56 against Slovakia after skating 17:29 of ice time across 31 shifts in the opening win against Finland.

 

Jay O'Brien (F - USA)
(1st round, 19th overall - 2018)

The 19-year-old Providence College freshman has been noticeable when he's received ice time, using his speed on the forecheck and creating a couple of scoring chances, but has been confined to fourth-line right wing duty with no special teams duty. O'Brien was out for one goal against at 5-on-5 in the Kazakhstan and Sweden games.  

Against Slovakia, O'Brien had one shot on goal in 11 shifts and 10:54 TOI of duty on a line with Logan Cockerill and Alexander Chmelevski. Against Kazahstan, he set up a pair of US scoring chances but came away again without a point. He was minus-one across 17 shifts and 10:04 of ice time. In the Sweden game, he was minus-one in 8:57 of ice time in 12 shifts.

 

Jack St. Ivany (D - USA)
(4th round, 112th overall - 2018)

The 19-year-old Yale University freshman has played very sparingly in the tournament as Team USA's seventh defenseman. 

Against Slovakia, St. Ivany received just 9 shifts and skated 6:37. In the Sweden game, he appeared only in a single 30-second shift in the third period after spending the first and second periods on the bench.

In between, unfortunately, St. Ivany was minus-two across 12 shifts and 8:47 of ice time in the Kazakhstan game. The first goal saw a bit of a communication mixup near the blueline, as attacker Andrei Buyalski split the D over the middle and went in to score against goaltender Cayden Primeau (Keith's son). On the latter Kazakh goal, which made it an 8-2 game in the third period, Primeau left out a rebound on a right circle changeup of a shot by Valeri Orekhov and the puck was quickly stashed home by Dmitri Mitenkov.

On the brighter side for St. Ivany, he had a pair of shots on goal, including a scoring chance from the left circle that required a nice glove save by the opposing netminder.

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