For two Nashville Predator prospects, the World Junior championships started with a bang. Patrick Harper and Team USA routed Denmark 9-0 on Tuesday, while Dante Fabbro and Team Canada took a 5-2 win from Eeli Tolvanen and Team Finland.
Tolvanen tallied an assist and +1 rating with five shots on goal in defeat, while Fabbro, who was cleared to play Tuesday morning just hours before the game, logged over 18 minutes of ice time in his return from a lower-body injury.
“I felt good,” Fabbro said following the win. “I know I had two practices prior to this game and I think the coaching staff did a great job of pushing me in practice and making sure I was as fit as possible for this. Leading up to those practices, I was doing a bunch of conditioning stints and it was great work. It was obviously tough, but it definitely it definitely paid off to get back on the ice.”
“It’s hard to predict the game,” Team Canada coach Dominique Ducharme said. “Having six PKs probably got him more ice time than we expected. Seeing how he reacts and so on, he felt pretty good. We’ll manage it one game at a time.”
The specifics of Fabbro’s injury are not known, but he missed Canada’s training camp and defenseman Josh Mahura was recalled, taking Fabbro’s place in case the 6-foot-1 blue-liner could not play.
“It was definitely a pretty devastating thing to go through and a lot of credit to Josh for coming in with the way the situation was,” Fabbro said. “He’s a great friend of mine, he handled it like a champ and obviously, it’s just unfortunate with the way these things work out. I worked extremely hard to get to where I am now and try and get back.”
“I thought it was great for him,” Team Canada captain Dillon Dube said. “He looked well and solid and his game…it’s tough coming back like that and being able to adjust to the speed, but I thought he played great. Especially against Team Finland, they’re fast and they’re quick and he played great. So, hopefully he can keep that going and I feel like his game is just going to build.”
Harper tallied a goal and an assist with a +3 rating. His line was responsible for five points, with Casey Mittelstadt notching two goals and Riley Tufte tallying an assist.
Canada returns to action tonight against Slovakia at 7 p.m. Finland looks to rebound Thursday against Denmark at noon, while USA plays Slovakia Thursday at 8 p.m.