PLYMOUTH, Mich. - Casey Mittelstadt broke out on Tuesday with a four-point effort in Team USA White's 8-2 win over Team Canada Red at the 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase. The victory for Mittelstadt's squad at USA Hockey Arena came against one of the Buffalo Sabres' other top prospects, center Cliff Pu.
Mittelstadt, Buffalo's first-round selection (eighth overall) in June's NHL Draft, took control of the opening period, recording two assists and a power-play goal to help USA White to a 5-0 lead after 20 minutes of play. He finished the night with two goals, the pair of assists, and four shots on goal.
"The start we had is one that you'll take in any game," Mittelstadt said. "Playing here - it's obviously our home rink, so that helps us get our energy going. But if you add playing against Canada, it only adds to our excitement level."
With the win, USA White earned a victory in each of their first three games after picking up victories versus Sweden and Finland to open the showcase.
"It has been a great start to the showcase for the team as we have come out on top in each of the first three games but it is important we carry it the rest of week and into the winter," he said.
The Americans are currently split into White and Blue squads, but will pare down to one team for the remainder of the week. Mittelstadt led Team White with a team-best six points (3+3), and had eight shots in three games.
"With last year's disappointment, as I was sent home early, it is a goal of mine to be a key contributor and be a player who makes plays to help the team win no matter where I play in the lineup," Mittelstadt said.
Pu (2016, third round), meanwhile, scored in his Summer Showcase debut. The game was Canada's first of the showcase.
"It felt really good to play at a game pace as it's been awhile since I've been in a game setting," Pu said.
Pu's goal came midway through the second period, but he directed all credit to wing Jonah Gadjovich (VAN, 2017).
"Gadjovich caused a turnover in the neutral zone and then I joined him on a 2-on-1 rush into the offensive zone," Pu said. "He made a really nice pass to me, and I swiped at the puck and it went into the net."
Despite the loss, Pu and his teammates feel they can take some important lessons out of the loss as they move forward.
"With a loss like that, it is easy to turn the page quickly," Pu said. "But we have to take the positives from the game, get better and learn from it, then move on."
Like the U.S., Canada will merge its two squads (Red and White) starting with tomorrow's slate of games. The Canadians return to action Wednesday afternoon when they square up with goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (2017, second round) and Team Finland at 1 p.m. at USA Hockey Arena.
Luukkonen made 18 saves in Saturday's 4-3 loss to USA White, his only action so far.
Team USA will skate again at 4 p.m. on Wednesday when they clash with forward Marcus Davidsson (2017, second round) and Team Sweden.
Davidsson has an assist through two games.
About the World Junior Summer Showcase
This is the second consecutive year that USA Hockey Arena has hosted the World Junior Summer Showcase, which features some of the top players under the age of 20 from the U.S., Canada, Finland and Sweden. In total, the week-long event will include 12 international competitions between the U.S., Canada, Finland and Sweden.
Players are auditioning for a spot to represent their respective countries in the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship, which will take place Dec. 26, 2017 through Jan. 5, 2018, in Buffalo.
For ticket packages and more information on the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship, check out BuffaloWorldJuniors.com.