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2018 World Junior Update: Hart, Canada Falls to US in Shootout in Outdoor Game

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The 2018 World Junior Championships continued on Thursday, but for those interested in only the Flyers prospects in attendance, it was a fairly uneventful day.

Friday, however, presented the marquee matchup, a rematch of last year’s Gold Medal Game between the US and Canada. And this time they took it outdoors.

Before getting into Friday’s action, there were four games on the schedule for Thursday. Only two Flyers prospects played on Thursday, with Canada and Belarus having off days.

Finland defeated Denmark, 4-1, in the first game of the day.

In the second game of the day, Russia defeated Switzerland, 5-2. German Rubtsov didn’t factor into the scoring, but did play 19:18 and have two shots on goal.

Sweden defeated Czech Republic, 3-1, in the third game of the day. Linus Hogberg again suited up as the seventh defenseman for Sweden, and played minimally, getting just 6:11 of ice time, including just 46 seconds in the third period.

The last game of the day proved to be the most exciting and stunning result. The defending champion Team USA suffered a 3-2 loss to Slovakia, which only helped set the stage even more for Friday’s rematch with Canada.

Friday’s action put Flyers prospects Rubtsov and Maksim Sushko against each other as Russia faced off against Belarus.

Rubtsov scored a goal and added an assist in a 5-2 win for Russia as one of their standout players in the game. He also had four shots on goal, was a plus-2 and played 18:51 in the game. Sushko played 24:04, easily a game-high ice time total among forwards, in the loss. He had three shots on goal and was a minus-1.

The loss was the third in three games for Belarus, essentially sealing their fate as one of the relegation teams.

Now to the main event, the outdoor showdown between Canada and USA.

With a heavy snow falling throughout the contest, it was sloppy hockey as both teams tried to move the puck up the ice through the buildup of snow collecting on the playing surface.

Canada jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period and had a 3-1 lead after two periods. But a power play in the third period allowed the US to get the margin back to within one.

A goal for Brady Tkachuk tied the game with 13:13 to play in the third, setting up a spectacular finish within the snow. As the snow let up throughout the third period, the action picked up and the two teams fought hard to force overtime.

Through regulation, Carter Hart had made 29 saves on 32 shots. Hart made another three saves in the overtime as the game went to a shootout, finishing with a total of 32 saves on 35 shots in 65 minutes.

But Hart struggled in the shootout, allowing a pair of goals on the first two attempts as the US ultimately claimed the victory, 4-3. 

Three of the Flyers four prospects will be back in action on Saturday. Sushko and Belarus close out Round Robin play against Czech Republic, Hogberg and Sweden face Switzerland, and Hart and Canada face Denmark. It is expected that Colton Point get the start over Hart for Canada in the final tuneup for the Canadians before the quarterfinals.

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