It wasn’t the ending he was hoping for, but it was nevertheless an incredible experience overall.
Dallas Stars prospect Jason Robertson and his Team USA teammates came oh-so-close to winning a gold medal at this year’s IIHF World Junior Championship. They made it all the way to the final game against Finland only to allow the Golden Goal with just 1:26 left to go in the third period.
Robertson was on the ice for the deciding shift, narrowly missing a shot block at his own blue line seconds before the puck went in.
Selects alum Kaapo Kakko scored the game-winning goal in the 2019 #WJC for @leijonat but he wasn’t the only alum to win gold. Check out who else took home HERE: https://t.co/X4uV009vK1 pic.twitter.com/9PAPg195PH— Selects Hockey (@SELECTS_Hockey) January 8, 2019
This year’s World Junior tournament was the first time Robertson donned the red, white, and blue for his country at a major international event, and he certainly proved that he belonged. He picked up one goal and six assists in seven games played, which was good for second on the American team and tied for seventh overall in the tournament.
And we head to the first intermission with #TeamUSA leading Finland 1-0. #USAWJC @JasonRob1999 takes advantage of a turnover and finds the back of the net for his first goal of the tournament. @FarabeeJoel picks up the lone assist. pic.twitter.com/FrkTbqd9jR— USA Hockey (@usahockey) January 1, 2019
For his part, the talented and positive 19-year-old winger sure seems to be taking everything in stride, likely still glowing from the entire experience.
I want to thank all those involved at @usahockey , my teammates, the coaches and trainers, for being a part of one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. I am very proud of what our team accomplished and feel honored to have had the opportunity to represent my country. pic.twitter.com/loVWXecvKa— Jason Robertson (@JasonRob1999) January 7, 2019
There won’t be much time now to rest and reflect, however.
Robertson is now back with his Niagara IceDogs team, who are one of the best clubs in the OHL and are primed and ready to make a big playoff push deep into the spring. With the wind of the World Juniors still in his sails, you can expect a big finish to 2018-19 from one of the Stars’ top prospects.
North American Juniors
2018 first rounder Ty Dellandrea had an enormous game on Sunday afternoon, picking up four primary assists as the Flint Firebirds pulled off an upset of the Sault-Ste. Marie Greyhounds. The Firebirds are still a serious mess, but that’s not the first game that Dellandrea has been the tipping point that gets his team into the win column.
Center Riley Damiani is back playing again for the Kitchener Rangers after a bizarre suspension and is clearly relishing the opportunity to be out on the ice, picking up six points over his past four games.
The University of Michigan team, including defenseman Joe Cecconi, played an outdoor game on Saturday afternoon against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Outdoor games are always memorable events, but this one might be a little extra memorable for Cecconi, who scored quite an, ahem, interesting goal in the contest.
Michigan's Joe Cecconi scores from behind the opposite blue line pic.twitter.com/SBb47XSqgc— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) January 5, 2019
Talk about a turn of events. After a slow start to the season that led to a reduction in ice time and a temporary demotion to the Allsvenskan, Linkoping center Fredrik Karlstrom has now scored goals in three straight games. Highlights of the goals can be found here, here, and here.
After Robertson, Oskar Bäck was the Stars’ other representative at this year’s World Juniors, picking up one assist in five games while playing in a depth checking role. Still just 18 years old, he will most likely rejoin Sweden for next year’s tournament.
The feisty Texas Stars keep finding ways to slowly scrape and climb their way up the AHL standings, going 5-2-2-1 in their past 10 games.
Twenty-three-year-old goaltender Landon Bow is 4-0-2 in his past six games. He finished with a .913 save percentage or higher in all six matches, the kind of consistency that the team was hoping to see out of the young stopper.
Speaking of puck stoppers, Colton Point was recently reassigned to the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads after a long time spent practicing with Texas but not appearing in any games. With Bow as the de facto starter for Texas and 24-year-old Steelheads goalie Tomas Sholl putting up incredible numbers all season, playing time might be hard to come by for the 20-year-old Point in the immediate future.
Two undrafted free agent signings continue to rack up points for the Stars. Forward Joel L’Esperance is maintaining his AHL rookie goal-scoring lead, with 19 in 34 games, while blueliner Ben Gleason’s 22 points in 31 games are tops among the team’s defenders. L’Esperance’s 19 tallies are also good enough for second in the entire AHL.
Denis Gurianov and Gavin Bayreuther have been logging lots of minutes down in the AHL since being reassigned by Dallas and both continue to look every bit like NHL-quality players. When they’ll get their next opportunities up with the big club still remains to be seen. Also worth mentioning about Gurianov: he was recently selected to play in this year’s AHL All Star Game.