PLYMOUTH, Mich. - Team USA White doubled up Finland 4-2 while USA Blue fell late versus Team Sweden at USA Hockey Arena in the opening contests of the 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase on Saturday.
Three of the four Sabres prospects in the event - Casey Mittelstadt (Team USA White), Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (Finland) and Marcus Davidsson (Sweden) - took the ice Saturday afternoon.
Mittelstadt, the Sabres first-round selection (eighth overall) in the 2017 NHL Draft, needed all of 65 seconds to impact USA White's game against Finland. He recorded an assist on the opening goal when Evan Barratt beat Luukkonen, who was drafted by the Sabres in second round back in June, on the blocker side.
"It is near the end July so that means it is getting closer to the start of hockey season. It felt good to knock off some of the rust," Mittelstadt said. "I personally want to get better with each game over the course of the week so it was a good start to the week with the win. Recording points early in a tournament is definitely a good start as opposed to being held pointless."
Later, Mittelstadt picked up a loose puck just inside the blueline of the Finnish zone, raced in all alone on Luukkonen and flipped a shot over top of the netminder's left shoulder to seal the 4-2 win for USA White.
Mittelstadt finished with a goal and an assist, along with three shots.
"Casey really had his feet going," USA White head coach Bob Motzko said. "He made some big time plays all game long for us and that is exactly what you want to see from players who have the ability to do that. Casey was sent home early from last year's team so I think he made a strong point today to show what he can do."
Luukkonen made 18 saves, but took the loss.
"It felt pretty good to get out on the ice today," Luukkonen said. "We had a tune-up game back in Finland prior to coming to the United States so it is good to get back playing some competitive hockey games again. It was also good to play against Casey, but I would much rather be on his team after seeing him play today because he is a really good player."
In the second game of the 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase, Team Sweden played USA Blue and trailed twice by a pair of goals, but was able to eliminate both deficits in a 4-3 victory.
Davidsson, the Sabres' second-round selection in 2017 (37th overall), had a pair of shots in the win.
Cliff Pu, Buffalo's final prospect in the showcase (2016, third round), will make his debut on Tuesday when Team Canada Red takes on Team USA White at 4 p.m. at USA Hockey Arena.
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 four nations - the U.S., Canada, Finland and Sweden - auditioning for a spot to represent their countries in the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship, which will take place Dec. 26, 2017 through Jan. 5, 2018 in Buffalo. In total, the week-long World Junior Summer Showcase will include 12 international competitions between the U.S., Canada, Finland and Sweden.
Ticket packages and more information regarding the 2018 World Junior Championship can be found here.