Blues prospect Ty Rattie scored Canada’s lone goal against the United States in the semifinals of the World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia.
Goaltender Jordan Binnington, another Blues prospect, played the second half of the game after Canada fell behind. Both he and Rattie should benefit from their participation.
But hockey fans in the Great White North were pretty sour after the U.S. stunned Canada 5-1 to advance to the gold medal game. The Canadians will play for the bronze medal, which was definitely not their goal coming in.
Losing, Rattie told reporters after the game, is “the worst feeling in the world.”
What went wrong?
“They came out quick,” Rattie told reporters. “We didn’t. We didn’t respond until the third – and that was too late.”
Team USA coach Phil Housley, a former Blues defenseman, earned a big victory in his second career. One of his key performers was Harvard forward Jim Vesey, son of a former Blues and Boston Bruins forward by the same name.
“We got the start we wanted, scoring the all-important first goal,” Housley told reporters. “We wanted to dictate the pace of the game early and we were able to do that and then it carried into the second period. We're going to enjoy this win tonight and then start thinking about the gold medal game tomorrow.”
Blues fans can look forward to seeing Rattie and Binnington in future Blues training camps. Both players factor into the organization’s plans.
Rattie is a small but persistent scorer. In his last 99 games for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, he has scored 168 points.
If he can add the strength needed to fend off NHL checking, he could rise to the highest level. He has a great feel for the game and a knack for converting opportunities around the net.
Rattie batted in his own rebound for a shorthanded goal Thursday, catching the Americans anticipating a stoppage in play. That was the only the Canadians got all game.
Binnington backed up Malcolm Subban in this tournament. He may get the start in the bronze medal game.
“I don't want to make that decision yet,” Team Canada coach Steve Spott told reporters. “We'll sit down and make that decision.”
Binnington is trying to follow Jake Allen’s path from major junior hockey to the American Hockey League. He could earn a depth role for the Blues organization next fall.
Elsewhere on the goaltending front, Blues draft pick Niklas Lundstrom starred in the other semifinal game. He stopped 27 shots as Sweden edged Russia 3-2 in a shootout.
Lundstrom, a fifth-round selection in the 2011 NHL Draft, graduated to more regular work in Swedish Elite League this season. He played 11 games for AIK, posting a .904 save percentage.
Given Lundstrom's opportunity to play at the highest level in Sweden, setting a timetable for his North American arrival will be difficult. He may opt to stay in Europe until he has a realistic shot at playing in the NHL.
An fourth Blues prospect, forward Dmitrij Jaskin, has also stood out in the tourney. The Hockey News offered this assessment of his play for the Czech Republic:
Jaskin carried the water in a crucial win over the Swiss, notching three assists, including one on Tomas Hertl's overtime winner. The big-bodied forward is using his physicality to his advantage and is a top-10 scorer in Ufa with five points in four games.
Jaskin plays for the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he scored 50 points in his first 31 games. He scored just two points in 30 games last season playing for Slavia Praha HC in top pro league in the Czech Republic.
By moving to the QMJHL and developing the offensive side of the game, Jaskin became a front-burner NHL prospect.
AROUND THE RINKS: Negotiations ground on Thursday toward a new collective bargaining agreement. The NHLPA planned another "disclaimer of interest" vote to sustain leverage through the conclusion of these negotiations. There remains a lot of work to do, but the sides have moved closer on the unresolved issues. It is hard to imagine talks breaking down with a settlement within reach . . . For the moment, anyhow, it appears the New Jersey Devils have achieved financial stability. But for how long? . . . Flyers forward Claude Giroux was one of several high-profile NHL players to suffer injuries in Europe during the lockout, but he should ready to go when the NHL resumes play . . . Evgeni Malkin tore up the KHL during the NHL lockout. The second-tier teams in that league can't wait for the NHL lockout to end so all these stars can return to the regular jobs . . . Plenty of high-end players landed in Switzerland and the Czech Republic as well. The lockout signing list read like a Who's Who of the NHL.