PLYMOUTH, Mich. - With a pair of highly anticipated contests between rival countries, the 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase came to an end on Saturday. Sweden claimed a 6-5 overtime victory against Finland while the U.S. defeated Canada 7-5 at USA Hockey Arena.
Players in the showcase 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.
Casey Mittelstadt (2017, first round) added an assist and a shot on goal in Saturday's victory for Team USA. He's committed to the University of Minnesota in the fall.
"This was a big way to end the tournament," Mittelstadt said. "Anytime we can beat Canada, it will always be a big win - no matter if it's the middle of summer or if a gold medal is on the line. We respect Canada, but it was a good win tonight to cap off an outstanding week for us as a team moving forward."
Cliff Pu (2016, third round) recorded a shot on goal for Canada. He finished the week with two goals and five shots in three games.
"It was a fast-paced game," Pu said. "It had the feel of what a potential game in December or January could feel like. It was a hard-fought game with two really good hockey teams, despite it only being August."
He'll be at Sabres training camp in September, but will likely be headed back to the London Knights, his OHL club, this season to play a key role on that team and continue his development.
In earlier action on Saturday, Sweden and Finland skated to a wild affair, ending with Tim Soderlund (CHI, 2017) netting the winning goal 2:02 into overtime.
Sabres goaltending prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (2017, second round), made 26 saves in the losing effort. It marked his third start of the showcase.
"We never felt we were out of the game despite trailing in it," Luukkonen said. "Anytime you play a game especially in a rivalry game, it is not over until the final second is off the clock and that was true today."
Luukkonen is expected to play for Liiga in Finland this upcoming season.
Marcus Davidsson (2017, second round) did not register a point on Saturday, but concluded the summer showcase with one assist and three shots in four games for Sweden.
"The week was great," Davidsson said. "It was a lot of fun, but at the same time, it was a big learning experience too. The first game, I did not play my best, but as the week went on, I began to feel really comfortable."
Davidsson will again be with Djurgårdens IF of the Swedish Hockey League next season. He recorded nine points (5+4) in 45 games for them last year.
For more information on the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship, including special ticket packages, visit BuffaloWorldJuniors.com.