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2023 World Juniors

Flyers’ Prospect Cutter Gauthier, USA Fall to Canada; Hart Returns for Philly

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Cutter Gauthier

Team USA had an impressive start in Wednesday’s World Junior semifinals, but the momentum evaporated.

Quickly.

Philadelphia Flyers prospect Cutter Gauthier and his USA teammates couldn’t hold a 2-0 lead, and the Americans were  trounced by Canada, 6-2, in Halifax.

Sparked by Joshua Roy and Connor Bedard, defending champion Canada scored six straight goals and coasted to the victory.

Roy, drafted in the fifth round by Montreal in 2021, had two goals and two assists for Canada. Bedard (six shots) had a goal and an assist. Goalie Thomas Milic also played a major role as he stopped 43 of 45 shots.

Team USA outshot the Canadians, 45-37.

The Canadians will face Czechia in Thursday’s championship game at 6:30 p.m. (NHL Network), and will aim for its 20th title. In Wednesday’s other semifinal, Czechia scored a 2-1 overtime win over Sweden.

Earlier in the tourney, Czechia defeated Canada, 5-2.

Team USA, which had two goals erased because of goalie interference, will meet Sweden for the bronze medal Thursday.

The American jumped out to a 2-0 lead as Logan Cooley and Kenny Connors scored goals in the first 10:30.

But Canada roared back.

Bedard starts rally

Bedard made it 2-1 just 1:19 after Connors’ goal. Canada then got second-period goals from Logan Stankoven,  Adam Fantilli, and Joshua to make it 4-2. (The Americans appeared to tie the score at 3-3, but the goal was erased because of goaltender interference.)

After the US had another goal erased on a challenge, Canada made it 5-2 on a score by Brandt Clarke midway through the third.

Checkmate.

Roy closed the scoring with an empty-net goal.

Entering the USA-Canada matchup, Gauthier had eight points (two goals, six assists) and a plus-8 rating  in five World Junior games. He was tied for fifth in tournament scoring, while his linemates, Cooley (11 points) and Jimmy Snuggerud (10), ranked second and third, respectively.

Gauthier was point-less, had six shots, and an “even” plus-minus rating Wednesday.

Canada’s Bedard is, by far, the leading scorer with 23 points (9-14).

Bedard, 17, has shown why is is heavily favored to be selected No. 1 overall in the June draft. He is the definition of a generational player.

In the quarterfinals, Bedard scored a had-to-see-it-to-believe-it overtime goal to lift Canada past Slovakia, 4-3.

“For me, it’s all about winning,” Bernard said before facing Team USA. “That’s what we’re here to do.”

And that’s just what the Canadians did.

Before Wednesday, the United States had won four of the last five playoff-round meetings against Canada.

USA has won five World Junior titles, the last in 2021. In that championship game, Philadelphia Flyers prospects Cam York and Bobby Brink helped USA jolt Canada, 2-0. York, now a Flyers regular, was the team’s captain.

The Americans also won in 2004, 2010, 2013, and 2017.

Carter Hart returns

Goaltender Carter Hart was removed from the IR list and activated Wednesday, Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher announced.

Hart, 24, suffered a concussion in a Dec. 23 game against Carolina. He is expected to face visiting Arizona on Thursday, which would be his first game since the 6-5 loss to the Hurricanes. 

The Flyers are trying to extend their winning streak to a season-high four games Thursday. Rookie goalie Sam Ersson has won the last three games.

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