PLYMOUTH, Mich. - Cliff Pu helped Team Canada rally back late in the third period in an eventual 6-5 win over Finland on Wednesday at the 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase.
Buffalo's third-round pick in 2016 redirected a shot in with 2:25 left in regulation at USA Hockey Arena to tie the game 4-4. Canada was then able to take the lead, but Finland tallied in the final 30 seconds to knot it back up in an action-packed end to regulation. Michael McLeod (2017, NJD) potted the overtime winner for the Canadians.
"I was trying to get to the front of the net and make it tough for Luukkonen to see," Pu said. "One of the keys against Luukkonen and any tall goaltender, is to get bodies and traffic in front of him."
The goaltender mentioned, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (2017, second round), is listed at 6-foot-4, 198 pounds. Even after the loss, he remained positive.
"Unfortunately, we were not able to come away with the win," Luukkonen said. "I feel I'm getting better with every opportunity I get to play, and that is really what this week is about."
Both matches of the day saw Sabres prospects face off each other. The first game saw Pu take on Luukkonen, while Casey Mittelstadt (2017, first round) and Team USA faced Marcus Davidsson (2017, second round) and Sweden in the late game.
Mittelstadt recorded a pair of assists to lead USA to a 3-2 win over the Swedes. He now has eight points (3+5) in four games.
"I, like everyone on the team, am trying to play my best to show the coaches and myself that I can play at this level," Mittelstadt said.
Mittelstadt did not make last year's World Junior Championship squad, so he feels as if he has a lot to prove this time around.
"Last year was a big learning lesson for myself," Mittelstadt said. "I did a lot to get back here and I know what to expect. I came here with a purpose and just want to keep playing well."
Davidsson, who has one assist, is continuing to enjoy his time on the ice despite the results. Sweden is 1-2-0 through three games.
"The week is going really well," Davidsson said. "While as a team we might not be getting the wins like we hoped, I am feeling better and better with every shift.
"The first shifts earlier in the showcase, it was difficult getting used to the smaller rinks, but now after playing on them for a few games, I am really liking them."
While all four teams are idle tomorrow, they return to the ice on Friday. Canada will play Sweden at 1 p.m. Then Finland and the U.S. will go at 4 p.m. Both games will be televised live on NHL Network.
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 four nations.
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.