Month: November 2017 (page 1 of 2)

Harvey the difference as Team QMJHL triumphs in Charlottetown

By 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series

Charlottetown, PEI – Russia came out firing early but Team QMJHL finished strong, outlasting their opponent in a 3-1 victory in Game 5 of the CIBC Canada Russia Series.

Samuel Harvey (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies) turned in a 25 save performance, denying several high quality Russian scoring opportunities as the CHL took a 9-6 lead in points entering Thursday’s series finale in Moncton.

“He had a strong game for sure and made some key saves at the right moments,” Team QMJHL head coach Dominique Ducharme (Drummondville Voltigeurs) said of Harvey, who became the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies all-time goaltending wins leader last week. “We need to be good at every position and we were certainly good in net tonight. He stood out for sure.”

Team Russia came with intensity in the early moments of Game 5, forcing Harvey into some big saves in order to keep his team in the game.

After Team QMJHL failed to record a shot on goal in the opening nine minutes of action, their first quality chance went into the net as Shawn Boudrias (Gatineau Olympiques), a former Islander, brought the Charlottetown faithful to their feet.

QMJHL captain Peter Abbandonato (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies) won an offensive zone draw as Boudrias carved a path to the net, snapping a quick shot over the shoulder of Alexey Melnichuk at 12:31.

The Russians responded under three minutes later as Chicago Blackhawks prospect Andrey Altybarmakyan scored his third of the series. Speedy linemate Alexey Polodyan forced a turnover at the Russian blue line, carrying the puck up ice to force a rebound off the pad of Harvey that found its way straight onto the stick of an oncoming Altybarmakyan who tied the score at one.

Russia carried the play, outshooting the QMJHL 11-6 in the first frame.

Harvey’s fine play carried over into the second stanza as the 19-year-old provided a breakaway save off Damir Rakhimullin and turned away Maxim Rasseykin on a one-timer in the slot moments later.

Team QMJHL managed to hold Russia’s power play at bay, being outshot 8-5 in the second for a two-period total of 19-11.

Ottawa Senators prospect Drake Batherson (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles) put Team QMJHL in the lead for good 4:11 into the third period, striking for the team’s second power play marker of the night. 2018 NHL Draft prospect Joe Veleno (Saint John Sea Dogs) moved a puck down low to Anaheim Ducks draftee Maxime Comtois (Victoriaville Tigres) who made a power move to the net, creating an opportunity in the slot as Batherson cleaned up a loose puck in the crease.

The grind of five games in three different provinces over the past week seemed to catch up with the Russians in the third period as they were limited to seven shots in the final 20 minutes but still managed to outshoot the QMJHL 26-24 on the night.

Nicolas Guay (Drummondville Voltigeurs) would add an unassisted empty net goal with 27 seconds remaining to secure a 3-1 victory for Team QMJHL, giving them four straight wins against Russia dating back to 2015.

Team QMJHL went 2-for-3 on the man advantage while holding Russia to an 0-for-5 mark. The Russians are now 1-for-13 on the power play throughout the series.

Team QMJHL featured a roster loaded with young talent including four 2000-born standouts in Joe Veleno (Saint John Sea Dogs), Noah Dobson (Acadie-Bathurst Titan) and the Halifax Mooseheads duo of forward Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Jared McIsaac. All four players won gold medals with Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament this past summer and saw plenty of ice in Tuesday’s victory.

“I really liked the way our young guys performed,” Ducharme added post-game. “You could see at the beginning we needed to make an adjustment but we got better and better and I really liked our third period.

“We managed the game well, we were good on the power play and we didn’t give them much late in the game.”

Up 9-6 in points, a QMJHL win on Thursday in Moncton would secure a third straight series victory for the Canadian Hockey League.

Thursday’s Game 6 will be the final CIBC Canada Russia Series matchup held at the Moncton Coliseum that will give way to a brand new facility set to open in September 2018.

Catch the series finale Thursday on Sportsnet East, Ontario and Pacific when the puck drops at 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT.

Suzuki and Timmins connect as Team OHL strikes back in Sudbury

By 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series

Sudbury, ON – Vegas Golden Knights prospect Nick Suzuki (Owen Sound Attack) and Colorado Avalanche second rounder Conor Timmins (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) both had three points, leading Team OHL to a 4-2 victory in Game 4 of the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series in Sudbury.

Team OHL rebounded from a 5-2 loss in Game 3 as a pair of quick third period goals broke open a 2-2 tie. Suzuki scored his second of the night for the game winner 4:09 into the final frame.

“We didn’t want to come here and go down 0-2 against the Russians, so it was good to get the job done tonight,” said Suzuki post-game. “I thought the whole team worked really hard and we got the result we wanted.”

Typically Western Conference foes, Suzuki and Timmins connected three different times in the win.

“When you’re on a power play with a guy like Suzuki and others like Tippett, Katchouk and Gadjovich, you just want to move the puck and let them do their thing,” said Timmins of his approach. “That worked out nicely for us tonight.”

Team OHL head coach Trevor Letowski (Windsor Spitfires) came away impressed with his club’s effort, citing better execution in the win as the series heads east knotted 6-6 in points.

“I really liked our compete level again,” Letowski noted. “Our power play is really dangerous and it played a big factor in the game and I thought DiPietro was very solid in net and made some good saves when he had to.

“Overall our guys dug in and we really wanted to get that one,” Letowski added. “Obviously we weren’t happy with the loss in Owen Sound. The boys are proud of being here and representing the league and they wanted to have a good showing. I thought we did that tonight.”

The Owen Sound tandem of Gadjovich and Suzuki went to work offensively early on Team OHL’s first power play of the night at 3:12 of the first. The former provided a screen in the slot while the latter ripped a wrister over the shoulder of Vladislav Sukhachev in the Russian crease to put Team OHL up 1-0.

After being outshot 6-1 in the opening five minutes of action, Russia responded at 6:36 as Chicago Blackhawks prospect Andrey Altybarmakyan forged a lane to the net and beat DiPietro on a forehand move off the rush.

Sukhachev provided some timely saves in the latter half of the first period, stopping Gadjovich on a backhand opportunity before getting a little help from his post as Jonathan Ang (Peterborough Petes) struck iron inside the final minute.

Both goaltenders provided big glove saves in the opening shifts of the second as both Sukhachev and DiPietro kept the score knotted at one before a local fan favourite used his big shot to put Russia in the lead.

After a pair of failed OHL clearing attempts, Sudbury Wolves star Dmitry Sokolov drifted through the slot and took a pass from Artyom Manukyan to beat DiPietro under the crossbar at 8:29.

Team OHL re-established the tie just over three minutes later as the power play struck again. After being set up by Timmins earlier in the game, Suzuki returned the favour, putting the puck on a tee for the Colorado Avalanche prospect who blasted home a slapshot at 11:53.

Team OHL outshot Russia 14-7 in the second for a two-period total of 27-19 as the game entered the third period in a 2-2 tie.

The OHL carried its momentum from a strong second over into the third as Suzuki picked up his second goal and third point of the night at 4:09.

Suzuki was sprung in alone on an outlet pass from Timmins, dekeing to the forehand before sliding a low shot through the legs of Sukhachev to give Team OHL a 3-2 edge. Owen Sound Attack teammate Sean Durzi also picked up an assist on the go-ahead goal.

Big 17-year-old blueliner Kevin Bahl (Ottawa 67’s) gave Team OHL some much-needed insurance just 31 seconds later. Bahl, who’s scored just once in 78 career OHL regular season contests, picked up his first of the 2017-18 season on a wrister through traffic. With Gadjovich providing another valuable screen out front, Bahl picked a corner and put Team OHL up 4-2 with roughly 15 minutes to go.

DiPietro stood his ground in the late going, but Team OHL tightened things up and held the Russians to just six shots on goal in the final frame to take a 4-2 victory.

The OHL outshot Russia 33-25 and went 2-for-6 on the power play while limiting their opponents to just one power play opportunity.

Team OHL improves to an all-time record of 24-5-1 in the CIBC Canada Russia Series while Russia drops to 1-13-0-1 all-time in Game 4 of the series.

The series shifts to Charlottetown, PEI on Tuesday night as Team QMJHL awaits Russia for Game 5. The action gets underway at 7:00pm ET/8:00AT on Sportsnet East, Ontario and Pacific.

Abu Dhabi Storms plotting a way to end Belarus President’s Team title run

Juma Al Dhaheri, centre, is hoping to stop the Belarus President's Team in their tracks this season. Reem Mohammed / The National

By Amith Passela – The National

Abu Dhabi Storms are determined to end the dominance of the Belarus President’s Team at the President’s Cup ice hockey tournament, which gets underway at the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink on Tuesday.

In a move to stop the visitors from claiming a fourth trophy in as many years, the Storms – a side usually made up of Emirati internationals – have recruited six foreign professionals, including three Finns and three Slovenians.

“They are the team to beat and we’ll try our best,” Juma Al Dhaheri, the Storms and UAE captain, said at the launch ceremony in the capital on Sunday.

“It’s not just the Belarus President’s Team. Others in the competition are not pushovers,” Al Dhaheri added.

“A majority of the teams have several former NHL [North American-based National Hockey League] and KHL [Eastern European-based Kontinental Hockey League] players in their ranks, and we’ll only know them after seeing them play the first game.

“For us, as local players, it’s a great experience to play at this level, and the reason to bring in some professional players is to match our opponents as well as learn by playing alongside them.”

The competition played in a league format consists of six teams. The Belarus President’s Team are joined by Hockey Legends from Germany, Parch from Czech Republic and Team Lebanon, a side made up of Canadian expatriates living in Lebanon.

The two local teams challenging them are the Storms and a team representing the Emirates Hockey League – the EHL All Stars.

“The bar is raised every year in this tournament and we expect all teams to be equally strong,” said Al Dhaheri, who is also the general secretary of the UAE Ice Sports Federation.

“It’s also part of our development programme to stage a top-flight competition in the country where hockey fans both local and expatriates can enjoy by witnessing some top quality action on the ice, aside the EHL.”

Belarus President’s Team and Hockey Legends will be the first sides to take to the ice at 5.15pm on Tuesday.

The Storms then face Parch in the second game at 7.15pm and EHL All Stars take on Team Lebanon in the final game at 9.15pm.

Talal Al Hashemi, head of technical affairs at Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said the sport has a big following, particularly among Canadians, Americans and Europeans living in the region.

“This tournament has received a strong foundation and we want to build on that every passing year,” he added.

“Hopefully we’ll have teams comprising full professionals which is our long term ambitions.”

US beats Canada 5-1 to win 3rd straight Four Nations Cup

Hannah Brandt (20), seen here at this year's world championships, scored twice in the second period to lead the U.S. to a 5-1 victory over Canada in the Four Nations Cup final.

By Associated Press

Hannah Brandt scored twice in the second period and the United States women beat Canada 5-1 on Sunday to win their third straight Four Nations Cup championship.

Hilary Knight and Amanda Kessel each added a goal and an assist. Kendall Coyne had a goal, and Dani Cameranesi added four assists.

Maddie Rooney made 18 saves and improved to 3-0 in the Americans’ four games at this tournament.

The United States won the event for the eighth time overall. Better yet, the Americans now have beaten their biggest rivals for the third time in four games over the past month as they tune up for the Pyeongchang Games in February.

Meghan Agosta scored just past the midway point of the third period pulling Canada within 2-1. Knight and Kessel scored power-play goals to pad the margin as the Americans went 3 of 7 with the advantage.

2017 4 NationsCup champions!

The Russian Olympic team are the Deutschland Cup winners

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

At the Deutschland Cup, the Russian Olympic team defeated Slovakia 4:2 to become the tournament’s winners!

Alexei Makeev scored an early goal, before two Slovakian goals gave the opponents the lead. Nevertheless, Russia proved to be strong for Slovakia, as Alexei Makeev and Mikhail Naumenkov scored further markers to earn a 4:2 victory!

The Russian Olympic team won all matches at the Deutschland Cup.

Dominik Kahun assisted on goals by Frank Mauer, Brent Raedeke and Brooks Macek as host Germany beat the United States 5-1 on Sunday in the Deutschland Cup finale. 

United States finish last in the competition losing all their Games.  

Finns claim Karjala Tournament

By Andrew Podnieks – IIHF.com

Eeli Tolvanen scored a power-play goal midway through the third period to break a 3-3 tie with Canada and give the home side victory in the Karjala Tournament with a perfect 3-0 record. The game was played before a sold-out crowd at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki.

The loss put Canada in fourth place with one win and two losses. Russia and Sweden finished with 2-1 records, the former receiving superior placing based on goals difference.

The Czechs tied with Canada with one win and the Swiss finished in last, going winless in the tournament.

Normally a pleasant event during a league break in European club play, this year’s Karjala Tournament had greater importance because teams used the event as a testing ground for players hoping to represent their countries at next February’s Olympics. To that end, Canada and Switzerland were added to the schedule which is usually reserved for four teams (Finland, Czech Republic, Russia and Sweden).

Finland won its three games thanks to several positive factors. Mikko Koskinen was sharp in goal for Suomi in two games; the defence allowed only two goals a game; and, the players gelled like a team. As well, 18-year-old Miro Heiskanen played like a veteran and looks to be a good bet to go to PyeongChang.

Russia scored the most goals of the six teams (13), in large part thanks to Mikhail Grigorenko, who scored four of his team’s goals and finished atop the scoring table with six points. Three of those goals came on the final day in a 5-2 win over the Czechs.

Sweden lost a 3-1 decision to Finland to start the Helsinki part of the tournament and played its best in completely shutting down Canada in a 2-0 win. Par Lindholm was the hero there, scoring two power-play goals – one in the second, one in the third – to give Tre Kronor all the offense it needed.

The team then posted an emphatic 5-3 win over the Czechs thanks to two more power-play goals, these from Dick Axelsson in the third period to break a 3-3 tie. Indeed, five of the team’s eight goals in the tournament came with the extra man.

Canada’s GM Sean Burke has had to cobble together a lineup like no GM in Canada’s long Olympic history. While most of the players are from the KHL, there are also participants from Switzerland, Sweden, the AHL, and NCAA. Coach Willie Desjardins had to be happiest with the final game when the team showed some offensive flair and legs that had been absent previously. But there is clearly work to be done before Canada can claim to be in the medal mix for PyeongChang.

The Czechs haven’t won a medal at the World Championship since 2012, the longest drought in the nearly hundred years of IIHF participation, and this result continues a worrisome trend. With its best group of players in the NHL, they are fighting to generate offence and play strong defence.

The Swiss are clearly in trouble without their NHLers. The incredible success of the nation’s program has now sent 13 players to the world’s top league, but without those stars, coach Patrick Fischer, like every other coach, has had to scramble. Losing all three games and scoring only six times doesn’t bode well for next February.

In all, teams learned a great deal about who they’ll have and what kind of team they’ll have. The news is good and bad, but time is running short. One can be sure the various general managers and coaches will confer in the coming days and do what they can to improve further. In the meantime, there are only two mini-tournaments left before Korea – the Channel One Cup in mid-December in Moscow and the Spengler Cup at the end of the year in Davos, Switzerland.

Falklands ice hockey team in international tournament in Costa Rica

By Merco Press South Atlantic News Agency

Costa Rica will be hosting the first Castillo International Ice Hockey Tournament with the participation of a home team, and three international sides, including one form the Falkland Islands. The competition is scheduled to take place at the Castillo Country Club in San Rafael de Heredia, on 18/19 November.

 “The idea cropped up during a trip five years ago to the Falkland Islands, in 2012, where I met representatives of local teams. Later on I also made ice hockey friends with people from Calgary and Los Angeles, and finally we managed to organize the competition and a schedule”, according to Bruce Callow, organizer of the event and founder of the Costa Rica Castillo Knights team.

The overseas teams are the Stanley All-Stars from the Falklands, Canadian Citizens and Ruination from LA. The competition will be played at the Senior category and includes some former professionals such as goalie Jason Wood from UK.

“At the end of the day, this first ice hockey tournament in Central America is geared to make the sport grow, to attract young people of all ages, and this kind of events will help promote the ice hockey game in Costa Rica”, adds Callow. “I can assure you that once you’ve tried hockey and get the knack of it, you’ll forget about soccer”.

Callow advanced that for next year’s edition there has also been strong interest from teams in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Argentina, which are planning to participate.

Likewise he also revealed that ice hockey has been played in Costa Rica for twenty years and the Castillo Country Club offers its members the chance of learning to play the game. The ice ring was only recently remodeled and can hold some fifty skiers at the time.

According to the schedule Stanley All Stars play hosts Castillo Knights on the morning of Saturday 18th November, and in the afternoon Canadian Citizens. On Sunday morning Falklands play Ruination from Los Angeles, and in the afternoon, at 14:00 hours and 16:00 hours, the bronze and gold medals will be disputed.

Falklands will be represented by Stanley-All Stars

Falklands will be represented by Stanley-All Stars

Canadian Filmmakers Get a View of North Korea Through Hockey

Taesongsan Winter Sports Club, a North Korean professional
hockey team, was shadowed by a Canadian film crew last year.

By 

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The dated but majestic Pyongyang Ice Rink is adorned with timeless symbols of a country in isolation.

In the arena’s upper bowl, portraits of North Korea’s past leaders, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, hang like championship banners.

On the ice below, the national men’s hockey team often simulates a five-on-four penalty killing drill that was introduced to the North Koreans by the Soviets several decades ago.

Over the past year, five Canadian filmmakers have often been at the rink with the team, sometimes even on the ice. They are documenting the slap shots and the post-practice speeches, but are also trying to peel back the layers of a long-existing hockey subculture in one of the world’s most mysterious nations.

Why were their pads and equipment old? Why did they repeatedly run the same predictable plays? Where did these players come from?

“All of the questions that I’m sure a lot of people have about North Korea and hockey over there, I had when I first went,” said Nigel Edwards, 27, the director of the coming documentary “Closing the Gap.”

The opportunity to get answers to those questions raised even more. How did a film crew from Vancouver, British Columbia, acquire unparalleled access to shadow North Korean sports teams?


Players from the Taesongsan and Pyongyang Choldo teams lined up after a game
at the Pyongyang Ice Rink.

Matt Reichel, one of the film’s producers, worked and lived in Asia on and off over the past decade. A 2009 graduate of Brown University’s international relations and East Asian studies program, Reichel started nonprofit and digital marketing ventures while living overseas, building connections in the process.

He estimated that he had been to North Korea more than 60 times. On one of those visits, he discovered that North Korea had a pastime in common with his home country.

“I saw that there was a hockey tournament one year around the time of Kim Jong-il’s birthday, so I decided to go check it out,” he said.

Back in Vancouver, his hometown, Reichel teamed up with Edwards, a former television production assistant.

“We wanted to use media arts as a way to look at something about North Korean society that’s not political,” Reichel, 30, said. “We focused on a very tiny slice of North Korean society and wanted to see what we can learn about it in a very earnest, very honest way.”

It took two years of leveraging Reichel’s contacts and forming new ones with the Ministry of Sports and the Korean Ice Hockey Association, a league of seven clubs, for the filmmakers to get permission for the project.

In November 2016, the production crew went on the first of three trips to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, to shadow the men’s national team and a professional team, Taesongsan Winter Sports Club. Reichel and Sunny Hahm, an associate producer, a translator and a Seoul native, provided insight into North Korean culture for the new visitors.

“They told us the first time you go there you’re a stranger, the second time you’re a friend, and the third time you are family,” Edwards said.


Taesongsan’s goalies, left, listened to their coach in the locker room at Pyongyang Ice Rink during a
Tournament of the Republic game against Pyongyang Choldo, right, in November 2016.

To break the ice with the athletes during the first days of filming, the crew played the Canadian card.

“I think from a hockey standpoint, they were very interested in us being Canadians,” Edwards said. “I think they were a little more disappointed that my entire production team couldn’t skate.”

But Hahm, a competitive recreation hockey player, could skate and was critical to building rapport. Aside from being able to speak Korean, he often practiced with the Taesongsan team, making suggestions to the coach and players.

In a game during the crew’s first trip, the Taesongsan coach presented Hahm with a jersey and an offer to sit with the team during the game, though Hahm did not play because of Korean Ice Hockey Association rules.

For the rest of the crew, trust and relationships were built on consistency and gestures. Edwards made a point of learning each player’s name; in turn they remembered his. While shooting interviews, members of the crew were cognizant of their subjects’ skepticism.

“We spent lots of conversations just sort of talking about, how do we frame these questions?” Edwards said. “How do we try to show and prove to them that we mean well and we’re not going to like rip them off or show them in a bad light?”

Every morning after breakfast, the crew made the five-minute trek from its downtown hotel to the arena.

Many competitors in ice sports like speed skating, figure skating and hockey have the arena on a given day. The schedule is planned to the minute, Edwards said.

haring the facility is efficient, but not conducive to ideal hockey practice. The ice is worn from overuse, and divots courtesy of the figure skaters are visible throughout the rink. The glass is scratched, and the boards lack compression.

The hockey play is also behind the times.

“It was a very conservative, traditional style of play,” Hahm, 29, said. “You can tell there was a sense of real lack of creativity when it comes to formulating plays.”

According to the filmmakers, North Korean teams still abide by the training materials and methodologies passed on from the Soviet Union in the 1950s. While South Korea’s hockey program has evolved in recent years, qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics as the host country, North Korea’s has remained stagnant. The lack of outside exposure and information sharing — televised N.H.L. games, foreign-exchange skills clinics and access to the internet — has significantly impeded the progress.

“The vast majority of the team comes from the countryside, and they are recruited as kids 12, 13 years old, based on who has athletic talent in those small villages or towns,” Reichel said.

Most of the team’s equipment is used and is donated by the International Ice Hockey Federation, which is based in Zurich. The film crew tried to help, contributing tape and new composite graphite hockey sticks.

“We wanted them to feel they were on equal levels of playing,” Hahm said.

What the North Korean players lack in knowledge, gear and size (no one on the national team is over six feet tall), they try to make up for through discipline and heart.

“You must rise higher and faster because if you are running, the opposite player is flying, and in order to catch up them, you need to train harder,” Hong Chun-rim, a star forward, said through an interpreter in “Closing the Gap.”

The filmmakers shadowed the Taesongsan team for 11 days during their first trip in November. When they returned to film last spring for three weeks, they focused on the 20-man national team, which was training for and competing in the I.I.H.F. world championship in Auckland, New Zealand.

A coach for the Taesongsan team waiting as a local team practiced. The professional
team shares the facility with other clubs and with athletes in other ice sports.
 

A Division II team in international competition, North Korea was in a pool that also included China, Israel and Mexico.

Hong, the fastest and most skilled player on the team, scored a hat trick in North Korea’s only victory in Auckland — an 11-3 win over Turkey. The team had sustained several injuries, mainly from the intense play against bigger and stronger opponents.

The yearly change of scenery for international tournaments provides an opportunity for the players to explore things they cannot find in Pyongyang.

“When we were in New Zealand, there was a group of them that would always be looking at YouTube videos in the lobby,” Edwards said. “They are very aware that there is the N.H.L. and big players. So, when they travel abroad, they always learn more.”

In December, the crew will make one last trip to Pyongyang to conclude filming. The filmmakers are seeking a distributor and hope to show the documentary at the top film festivals next year.

“We said this story is going to be a real interesting tile,” Reichel said, “as if North Korea is this giant mosaic and there’s all these different components to what North Korean society is.”

He added that he did not expect the recent rising tensions between North Korea and the United States to have much impact on the players’ day-to-day lives.

“They are all seeking what we all seek, which is self-worth,” Edwards said. “They are just looking for a place to prove themselves, and that, for them, is winning gold on an international stage. Even though, how realistic is that?

“But they will keep pushing that forever, because that is their job.”

Big saves, timely scoring lead Russia to 5-2 victory in Owen Sound

By 2017 CIBC CANADA RUSSIA SERIES

Owen Sound, ON – Alexey Melnichuk made 35 saves and Russia scored five times on 18 shots to defeat Team OHL 5-2 in Owen Sound and take a 6-3 (points) lead in the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series.

Artyom Manukyan and Alexey Polodyan both scored twice while OHL talent played a large part in the Russian victory as Dmitri Samorukov (Guelph Storm), Alexey Lipanov (Barrie Colts) and Dmitry Sokolov (Sudbury Wolves) all found the scoresheet.

“Altogether I thought we played pretty well,” said three-year Team OHL veteran Will Bitten (Hamilton Bulldogs). “We had a lot of shots and scoring opportunities but their goaltender was outstanding.

“They have a good team over there and they came out hard tonight,” he continued. “We have to have a short memory and come ready to play on Monday in Sudbury.”

Team OHL captain Taylor Raddysh (Erie Otters) opened the scoring, converting on a penalty shot at the CIBC Canada Russia Series for the second straight year. The big winger beat Melnichuk inside the far post on a quick release just 36 seconds into action.

The Russians didn’t need long to draw even though as new recruit Dmitri Samorukov (Guelph Storm) blasted a point shot past his OHL counterpart Dylan Wells (Peterborough Petes) in the Team OHL crease.  The tying goal came off a Russian offensive zone faceoff win as the game was knotted at one at 7:31.

After a trio of high quality Melnichuk saves off Bitten and Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting), the Russians climbed ahead on the power play, ending an 0-for-14 slide on the man advantage dating back to 2015.

Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Alexey Lipanov (Barrie Colts) blazed down the right wing, opening up a lane for an oncoming Artyom Manukyan speeding down the middle for an open net finish at 16:24.

Team OHL outshot Russia 16-7 but trailed 2-1 after 20 minutes.

The two sides traded quick goals in the opening half of the second period as Florida Panthers prospect Adam Mascherin (Kitchener Rangers) finished off a pretty power play passing sequence in the goalmouth. Buffalo Sabres draftee Cliff Pu found a waiting Mascherin 7:59 into the frame as he drew Team OHL even at two.

Russia regained the lead less than two minutes later though as Manukyan, who set a record with 105 points in Russia’s top Junior Circuit last season, found his second of the night. Minnesota Wild prospect Dmitry Sokolov (Sudbury Wolves) took an outlet pass from Lipanov on a quick transition play after Team OHL failed to enter the offensive zone, dishing to an open Manukyan who made it 3-2 at 9:43 of the second.

Alexey Polodyan took out an insurance policy on the Russian lead before the second expired, scoring a highlight reel goal as he danced around two OHL defenders to beat Wells under the arm at 16:15.

Russia led 4-2 after two periods despite being outshot 28-14.

Though Team OHL controlled the pace in the third, their offensive efforts were thwarted by the fine play of Melnichuk as Polodyan would eventually find his second of the night into an empty net with 52 seconds remaining.

Team OHL outshot Russia 37-18 on the night, but the scoreboard told another story in a 5-2 loss.

“I don’t think the score was indicative of how things went out there tonight,” said Owen Sound Attack fan favourite Markus Phillips who had a chance to play in front of a sold out Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. “It was a great atmosphere and I thought we did a lot of good things but our execution just wasn’t there.”

Russia improves to 5-4-0-0 against the OHL over the past five years at the CIBC Canada Russia Series.

Nine OHL players will remain in the lineup on Monday night when series shifts to Sudbury for Game 4.

Catch Monday’s action on Sportsnet Ontario, East and Pacific when the puck drops at 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT.

Canadian teens cut from the NHL shift focus to starring at world juniors

By Michael Traikos – National Post

One dream has been put on hold. Another is about to begin.

A day after the Florida Panthers returned Owen Tippett to the Ontario Hockey League, the 10th overall pick in this year’s draft was back practising with the Mississauga Steelheads on Tuesday.

If he was bitter or disappointed, he didn’t show it. Instead, Tippett was already looking ahead to the next challenge: winning a spot on Canada’s roster for the world junior championship.

“I’ve dreamed about playing for Team Canada at the world juniors ever since I was a little kid, so to play in that tournament would be a really special feeling,” said the 18-year-old forward. “I obviously can take a lot back from what I learned there and implement it here.”

Tippett, who unexpectedly made Florida’s roster out of training camp, scored a goal and had 17 shots — only once did he fail to register a shot — in seven NHL games for the Panthers.

“What I like about him is he wants the puck and he wants it in critical situations,” GM Dale Tallon told Postmedia News in September. “I think his game is well suited to the pros.”

At times, Tippett looked like he might stick. He had seven shots in his NHL debut. On his goal, he showcased his speed when he grabbed a turnover and sprinted up the ice before converting on a give-and-go against John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks. But he was in and out of Florida’s lineup; he averaged 11 minutes of ice time and watched nearly half the games from the press box.

At 18, Tippett needs to play so he can develop. That’s why he was sent back to junior on the same day the Edmonton Oilers returned 22nd-overall pick Kailer Yamamoto (no goals and three assists in nine games) to the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League.

“I’ve realized now it’s not as big of a jump as some people might say,” said Tippett. “Anyone who’s my age who gets to start out with an NHL club at the start of the year (has) a great experience. I obviously can take a lot back from what I learned there and implement it here.”

The hope now is that both players will represent their respective countries — Yamamoto is American — at the world junior championship, which begins in Buffalo over the Christmas holidays next month. For Canada, getting a player with NHL experience, even if it’s only seven games, is a benefit.

“I think they came back with tremendous confidence. That’s first and foremost,” Hockey Canada head scout Brad McEwen said in a phone interview from Swift Current, Sask., where he was watching the first leg of the Canada-Russia series.

“We’re always looking for offence and ways to produce offence. And (Tippett) can do that. We expect him to be part of the offence and certainly in the mix. But he has to prove it right away.”

While it appears no draft-eligible player will find his way onto Canada’s roster, McEwen is “crossing his fingers” that several players currently on NHL rosters will be made available. Some, such as Columbus forward Pierre-Luc Dubois and Montreal defenceman Victor Mete, are long shots. Others, like Colorado’s Tyson Jost and Samuel Girard, could be last-minute additions.

The biggest name out there is No. 2 overall pick Nolan Patrick, who has played nine games with Philadelphia, but has been out of the Philadelphia’s lineup since Oct. 24 with a head injury. Once healthy, the Flyers have to decide whether to keep Patrick past the 10-game threshold or return him to the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings.

Another question mark concerns Michael McLeod (12th overall, 2016). The Devils prospect tore his meniscus during a pre-season game and has been recovering from knee surgery ever since. It’s doubtful New Jersey will keep him around once he’s healthy.

“The information that we get is that his rehab is going real well and it’s getting close to the point where he’s going to get cleared,” McEwan said of McLeod, who had two goals and one assist in seven games for Canada at last year’s world juniors. “We’ll communicate with the Devils and see what’s in the plans. He would be a nice addition, having played last year and being a veteran guy.”

The Matt Duchene trade could affect whether Canada ends up with a couple of key players.

At one time, it looked like Jost (10th overall, 2016) might become available, since he was in and out of Colorado’s lineup and averaging only 13 minutes a game. But with Duchene gone from the Avalanche, Jost could see an increase in ice time moving forward. Another difficult assessment concerns Girard (47th overall, 2016), who looked like he would be loaned for the world juniors after getting demoted to Nashville’s AHL affiliate. But that was before he was traded to Colorado.

“Now that Samuel’s been traded, I don’t know what the plan is there, and that’s fine,” said McEwen, who is also keeping an eye on Mete’s declining minutes with the Canadiens. “He played a ton of minutes early and now it’s come down. For me, that’s not an indicator of whether we’re going to get him back or not. We’re just waiting and seeing where it all plays out.

“We prepare the names that we have now, and if those guys come back, it will be a bonus.”

HART FAVOURED TO START IN GOAL

Canada’s selection camp for the 2018 world junior championship is still a month away, but it appears Carter Hart has the inside track on the No. 1 goaltending position.

The 19-year-old, who is one of six potential returning players who won silver at last year’s tournament, posted a shutout in a 7-0 win Monday in the Canada-Russia super series in Moose Jaw, Sask. It was a good first step for the Philadelphia Flyers prospect, who had played sparingly this season because he had been sick with mono.

“I thought Carter Hart was really good,” said Hockey Canada head scout Brad McEwen. “Even though it was 7-0, he was great, which was great to see.”

Hart, who was selected 48th overall in the 2016 draft after being named CHL goalie of the year, is expected to battle Vancouver Canucks prospect Michael DiPietro for the starting job.

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