Flyers prospect Noah Cates opened the scoring Wednesday to spark the Unites States past the Czech Republic, 3-1, and advance to the World Junior semifinals.
Jack Hughes, expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft this June, set up Cates, and he showed great hands to finish off a spectacular first-period goal in Victoria, British Columbia.
Cates was named Team USA’s player of the game. He became the fourth Flyers prospect who was his team’s player-of-the-game selection in the tourney, joining Morgan Frost (Canada), Joel Farabee (U.S.), and goalie Samuel Ersson (Sweden). Top-ranked Sweden, with Ersson in goal, was upset by Switzerland on Wednesday, 2-0.
In the United States' victory, goalie Cayden Primeau, the pride of Bishop Eustace and Voorhees, made 18 saves and collected the win. Primeau, whose dad, Keith, is a former Flyers star, was selected in the seventh round of the 2017 draft – a pick the Canadiens acquired from the Flyers.
Primeau, 19, is in his second year at Northeastern University, where he has a 2.40 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in 18 games this season.
Cates, a 6-foot-1, 179-pound left winger who turns 20 next month, is a freshman at Minnesota-Duluth, and he has seven points, including four goals, in 16 collegiate games.
Cates was a high school left winger when the Flyers drafted him in the fifth round (137th overall) in 2017. He had 20 goals and 65 points in 25 games during his senior season at Stillwater (Minn.) High, and had seven points in 11 USHL games.
The U.S. will have a difficult challenge when it faces Russia in Friday’s semifinals.
In addition to Cates, the U.S. team includes Flyers prospects Farabee (left winger), Jay O’Brien (center/right winger), and defenseman Jack St. Ivany.
Earlier in the tourney, Farabee, a freshman at Boston University, had a hat trick in an 8-2 win over Kazakhstan.
Frost, the highly touted Flyers prospect, and his Canada team were jolted by Finland in overtime, 2-1, in another quarterfinal Wednesday.