Mittelstadt studly as World Junior Summer Showcase commences

Action at the 2017 USA Hockey World Junior Summer Showcase kicked off Saturday with three Sabres prospects taking the ice.

In the early game, Casey Mittelstadt (2017, first round) put his skill game on display with one goal and one assist as USA White opened the event with a 4-2 victory over Finland.

2017 draftmate Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (2017, second round) earned the start in net for the Finns, stopping 18 of 22 shots to take the loss.

It didn’t take long for Mittelstadt to make an impression, accepting a pass at the right circle and threading a soft backhand feed into the skates of Penn State commit Evan Barratt, who quickly got the puck on his stick and past Luukkonen for the game's opening goal just 1:05 in.

Mittelstadt's puck-control and passing game were evident on most of his shifts throughout the contest, but the hands that he claimed were rusty a few weeks ago at Development Camp seemed just fine as he scored USA White's fourth goal.

With USA White holding a 3-2 lead in the third period, Mittlestadt scooped up a loose puck just inside the Finnish blueline and danced in alone on Luukkonen, making a few stick fakes before roofing a backhand up and over the left shoulder of his fellow Sabres prospect with less than eight minutes to play.

It is these type of plays that should see Mittelstadt, who rounded out the two-point effort with three shots on goal and a plus-2 rating, be a go-to force not only when Team USA consolidates their two-team roster into one squad later this camp, but when the real action begins the day after Christmas in Buffalo.

Thought to be Finland's top option in goal, Luukkonen made a healthy amount of quality stops in the contest. He was tested early with Finland taking five penalties in the first 31 minutes, but his calm demeanor and huge frame kept the game close despite allowing the four even-strength markers.

The second game saw Sweden battle back and get their first lead of the game with nine seconds left in regulation to earn a 4-3 victory over USA Blue.

Being used in a fourth-line role, Sabres prospect Marcus Davidsson (2017, second round) produced two shots on goal and a minus-1 rating in the victory.

Davidsson's two shots were both quality chances, as the first came when he was in his usual net-front mode to get a point-blank chance from in tight off a pretty passing play, while the second saw him accept a pass at the USA Blue blueline and use a burst to get behind the defense for a forehand shot on goal.

Overall, Davidsson kept his feet moving to take away time and space from the USA defenders. On one second period play, he bolted from his left-wing spot off a lost faceoff and pressured a defender into a turnover and seconds later won a puck battle beneath the goal line to send a quick backhand  pass to the front of the net for another quality chance.

Sweden was trailing in the third and shortened their bench, so Davidsson didn't see much work in the final frame, but he was out for the final nine seconds after the comeback to take part in two post-whistle scrums initiated by a disappointed USA squad.

World Junior Summer Showcase action continues today with USA Blue taking on Finland at 1:00, following by USA White and Sweden at 4:00/

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