Three Sabres prospects to play in World Junior semifinals
Brayton J. Wilson Reporting
It has been quite the tournament for three of the four Buffalo Sabres prospects playing at the IIHF Under-20 World Junior Championship in Canada. Forwards Alexander Nylander and Rasmus Asplund (Sweden) and defenseman Casey Fitzgerald (United States) will all play for a chance to play for the gold medal on Wednesday.
On Monday, Sweden took on Slovakia in the second quarterfinal game of the tournament and handed the Slovaks an 8-3 loss.
Nylander continues to tear up the tournament with another goal and assist in the win. Nylander also registered two shots on goal in 16:02 of total ice time in the win.
Nylander is currently the leading scorer in the tournament with five goals and eleven points, and leads Russia's Kirill Kaprizov (Minnesota Wild prospect) by one point. Nylander has arguably been one of the top performers in this year's tournament after a nine point performance in last year's tournament in Helsinki, Finland.
Nylander's game of the tournament was on Thursday when he scored twice and added an assist on four shots on goal in 16:15 of ice time. Sweden won the contest by a 3-1 score over Finland. Nylander was also selected as Sweden's Player of the Game in the win.
Asplund put up his most productive game of the tournament with four assists in the win. This ups his point total in the tournament to seven with a goal and six assists. Asplund is tied for second in team scoring with Minnesota Wild prospect Joel Eriksson Ek, and both are tied for seventh in the tournament in scoring.
Sweden will play Canada in second semifinal game on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Canada was victorious over the Czech Republic on Monday night with a 5-3 win at the Bell Centre in Montréal, Quebec.
As for the United States, they picked up a 3-2 win over Switzerland in the third quarterfinal game on Monday. Fitzgerald registered and assist and took a penalty in 19:26 of ice time, but helps the U.S. land a spot in the semifinals.
Fitzgerald has played fairly well in the tournament so far with the U.S. with three assists, five shots on goal, and a plus-3 rating in five games played. Fitzgerald is also averaging 18:07 of total ice time, which is third among defensemen on the U.S. roster.
The Americans will face Russia in the first semifinal game of the day on Wednesday at 3 p.m. from the Bell Centre. Russia advanced after a 4-0 win over Denmark on Monday.
Buffalo's only other prospect in the tournament, Vojtech Budik (Czech Republic), was eliminated by the Canadians on Monday. Budik had no points in just two games in the tournament.