Panthers Prospects Shine In Opening Games of WJC

Monster opener for Huberdeau in Canada's tournament opener. Photo Source: The Canadian Press

If your sole motivation for tuning into the opening day of the World Junior Championships on Monday was to see how the Florida Panthers prospects would fare, you must have had a pretty wide smile on your face. Of the six prospects the Cats had in the tournament, three of them tallied points including a monster 5-point effort from Jonathan Huberdeau.

This year’s number three overall draft pick scored a power play goal to go along with four assists, including a sweet feed from Gretzky’s office to Mark Stone on the first goal on Canada’s 8-1 rout of Finland. The game action was the first real game action for Huberdeau in almost six weeks as he’s missed time with a broken foot. You couldn’t tell he even missed a shift as he instantly clicked with his linemates Stone and Ryan Strome, who went on to combine for five goals, seven assists and a +11 rating.

In Team USA’s 11-3 rout of Denmark, Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau, teammates at the University of Minnesota, each scored a goal. In addition to his second period goal, Rau also picked up an assist on Austin Watson’s goal at the end of that period.

For other Cats prospects, it wasn’t such a good day, Quinton Howden and Finland’s Joonas Donskoi failed to record a point and USA’s Connor Brickley left the game pointless after an receiving a cut to his leg from a skate. As of this writing, no word on the severity or his availability going forward.

All six prospects will be back in action on Wednesday as the US matches up with Finland and Canada gets the Czech Republic.

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