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Prospects: Lundell Lighting Up Worlds; Gildon Honored in AHL

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

Anton Lundell is setting the world on fire.

The 2021 IIHF World Championship, to be exact.

With the round robin portion of the annual international best-on-best tournament coming to an end on Tuesday, Lundell dished out the primary assist on the game-tying goal late in the third period to help lift Finland to an eventual 3-2 shootout win over Canada at Arena Riga in Latvia.

Tweet from @IIHFHockey: Uhh ohhhhhh���. the Finns have tied the game! 😳 🇫🇮Ruotsalainen with his second of the game at a BIG moment! 🔥#IIHFWorlds #CANFIN @leijonat @BuffaloSabres pic.twitter.com/94iviwC4OA

Despite being only 19 years old, Lundell, who was taken by the Panthers with the 12th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, has been leading the charge on offense for Finland, ranking first on the team in both goals (tied-4) and points (6) through seven games at the World Championship.

And while there will be plenty of opportunities for more heroics moving forward, Lundell's biggest moment of the tournament thus far came on Sunday when he tucked a backhand shot around Janis Kalnins with just four seconds remaining in overtime to give Finland a 3-2 win over Latvia.

For his efforts, he was voted by fans on Twitter as the World Championship's "Hero of the Day."

Tweet from @IIHFHockey: WHAT. A. FINNISH!!! 🇫🇮🔥 #IIHFWorlds #FINLAT @leijonat pic.twitter.com/VdACuuh6ts

"It was a pretty smooth finish, huh?" defenseman Olli Maatta, who assisted on the game-winner, told IIHF.com after the thrilling win. "He made a great move. He beat his guy, his defenseman turned his back. It was a pretty easy pass to make, and Anton made a great play after that."

No stranger to the international stage, Lundell previously led Finland's U-20 squad to a bronze medal at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship in January. Serving as captain, he recorded a team-leading six goals, including netting a pair against Russia during the bronze-medal game.

When he wasn't wearing the Finnish flag on his jersey, Lundell also produced at nearly a point-per-game pace during his third season in Liiga. Suiting up in 26 games with HIFK, he registered 25 points (16 goals, nine assists), not including one goal and two assists in eight playoff games.

While the matchups aren't known yet, the quarterfinals at the World Championship will begin on Thursday. After that, the semifinals will be held on Saturday, with medal games being played on Sunday.

In addition to Lundell, Sergei Bobrovsky is also representing the Panthers at the event, manning the net for Russia as he looks to win the fourth medal of his career at the tournament.

Stay tuned to @JamesonCoop and @FlaPanthers on Twitter for updates.

GILDON HONORED

No matter where he's playing, Max Gildon finds a way to pick up points.

Spending the majority of this past season on loan with Bakersfield, the 22-year-old defenseman received a nice honor last week when it was announced he'd been named to the 2020-21 AHL All-Rookie Team after notching 19 points (two goals, 17 assists) in 32 games with the Condors.

Taken by the Panthers in the third round (66th overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft, Gildon also finished second in assists (17) and fourth in plus/minus (+16) among all AHL defensemen.

"The team's been awesome," Gildon said of his first professional season during an interview on the brad-new 'Panthers Pipeline' podcast last month. "It's been fun getting to know guys from another organization. They've welcomed me in as one of their own. It's been good for me."

Continuing to make strides at both ends of the ice, Gildon's strong rookie campaign comes on the heels of a solid three-year stint patrolling the blue line at the University of New Hampshire.

Leading the school's defensemen in scoring each season, Gildon recorded 73 points (21 goals, 52 assists) over 101 career games with the Wildcats. Showing off his scoring touch as the point man on the team's top power-play unit, 13 of those 21 goals came while on the man advantage.

In 2019-20, his 29 points placed him 11th in the nation among defensemen in scoring.

"A lot of it has to do with my teammates at New Hampshire and here as well," Gildon said of his steady improvement. "Here, some of the older guys have made it easier for me. Getting the puck up to the forwards has always been a strong part of my game. That's what I've been focusing on."

As a member of the AHL's All-Rookie Team, Gildon will receive a custom crystal award.

Congrats, Max!

SWAMP RABBITS CLINCH

The Swamp Rabbits are heading to the big dance in the ECHL.

With a 4-1 win over Jacksonville on Friday, Greenville, which entered into a multi-year affiliation agreement with the Panthers in November, punched its first ticket to the postseason since 2017.

Tweet from @SwampRabbits: The Kelly Cup Playoffs WILL soon return to Greenville! Here are tonight's game highlights presented by @AndersonUnivSC online & continuous learning! pic.twitter.com/XpkpVMFMSQ

Sitting at 37-19-11-3, the Swamp Rabbits currently own the fourth-best record in the ECHL and will wrap up their regular season with games against the Florida Everblades on Wednesday and Friday.

Heading into the playoffs on a high note, Greenville has gone 8-2-0-0 over its past 10 games.

Stay tuned for updates in the coming weeks on their quest for the Kelly Cup.

 

*Photo Credit: Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images

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