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Scott Laughton said serving as captain for Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship was a learning experience. (USA Today Images)
The 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden didn’t yield the desired result for Scott Laughton, the Flyers’ first-round pick in 2012 (21st overall). Canada finished fourth for the second straight year, marking its longest medal drought since Hockey Canada began sending all-star teams to this event in 1982.
However, when we consider the big picture after the tournament, captaining the U20 team should still be a positive for the 19-year-old center as he resumes league play with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals.
“I learned a lot,” Laughton said. “I met a lot of great people. I’ve been in the Hockey Canada system for a while now. It was an honor to wear the C and to represent my country. Hopefully I’ll get a chance in the future.”
The tough Oakville native, who recorded one assist in seven games and a plus-minus of plus-2, got to play with a variety of high-end Canadian talent. In Canada’s 7-2 opening win over Germany, he was flanked by wingers Josh Anderson of the OHL’s London Knights and Frederik Gauthier of the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic.
Later, Laughton would shift to left wing, playing alongside Bo Horvat (the center the Vancouver Canucks drafted ninth overall when they traded Cory Schneider to New Jersey last June) and Sam Reinhart, potentially the top overall pick in the 2014 draft.
Laughton provided the kind of on-ice energy that head coach Brent Sutter appreciated and hung out off the ice with youngsters like Connor McDavid, touted as a potential No. 1 overall pick in 2015. Laughton did a lot of things that will serve him well as a pro. McDavid, a 16-year-old Erie Otters forward for whom some are forecasting Sidney Crosby-like excellence, said he appreciated how Laughton gave him encouragement and included him in card games.
Still, Canada lost 5-1 to eventual champion Finland in the semifinals and 2-1 to Russia in the bronze medal game. Laughton said Canada “got beat fair and square” versus Finland, but felt the team came up with a better effort against archrival Russia.
Laughton, whose favorite NHLer is former Flyers captain Mike Richards, may be able to take a result that he described as “heartbreaking” and build off it into something positive. Consider that Richards, just two years after losing to Chicago in the 2010 Stanley Cup final with the Flyers, was able to shine again and win the Cup -- albeit with the Los Angeles Kings, of course.
With 50 points in 29 games with Oshawa so far this season, Laughton will be back in the lineup when the Generals visit the Kingston Frontenacs tonight.
At training camp, Swedish defenseman Robert Hagg will have (slight) bragging rights over Laughton and fellow Canadian forward Taylor Leier of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, drafted by the Flyers in the fourth round in 2012 (117th overall). Leier was held pointless and tied for the team low in plus-minus at minus-2.
Hagg, who plays for Modo Ornskoldsvik of the Swedish Hockey League and was drafted in the second round in 2013 (41st overall), scored one goal in seven games as the host Swedes took the silver medal.
Russian defenceman Valeri Vasiliev, a Flyers’ seventh-round pick in 2012 (201st overall), also scored once en route to a bronze medal.