Lightning WJC Prospects Recap: Duke Wins Bronze with Team USA

For Canada, it was World Juniors gold on home ice in an OT thriller against Czechia.

But for the three Tampa Bay Lightning prospects, it was Dylan Duke leading the way with a bronze medal for Team USA after defeating Sweden 8-7 in OT.

The USA looked like one of the strongest teams in the tournament during the preliminary stage, winning three convincing games, but lost uninspiringly to Slovakia in the second game. They followed-up group play with a 11-1 beatdown of Germany in the quarterfinals but saw their hopes of gold disappear – like their two-goal lead – when Canada scored six unanswered against them in the semifinals, ultimately losing 6-2.

Playing every game on the US’ third line, Duke’s role was never the largest, but he was always noticeable chasing after pucks in the offensive zone and setting screens in front of the net. His scoring stats for the tournament will say one goal and three assists, but that number could nearly be doubled with the uncredited work – on the scoresheet – that he did setting screens that led to USA goals (see #25 below).

Niko Huuhtanen and Finland saw their tournament come to a shocking end in the quarterfinals. Their one goal lead became a tie with under four minutes left, and a power play opportunity to close out regulation would prove fatal as Sweden scored shorthanded before winning 3-2.

While Huuhtanen was not able to fully show off his offensive toolkit this tournament, he did finish the tournament with two goals and an assist. Had Finland held on in their game against Sweden, it would have been Huuhtanen with the deciding goal.

Klavs Veinbergs and Latvia could not match their success from the previous tournament as they found themselves in the relegation series with Austria after going winless in preliminary play. Ultimately Latvia prevailed, winning two straight against Austria, and thus securing their spot in next year’s tournament.

Veinbergs only recorded one point – an assist – in the tournament, shy of the goal and assist he had over the summer tournament. A missed tap-in with the goalie beat late in their opener versus the USA was his best chance to get on the board.

(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Although he was not scoring much, Veinbergs made his presence known in the faceoff circle. Playing center throughout Latvia’s top three lines, he won over 60% of his draws in three of five games played.