The annual CIBC Canada/Russia series kicked off earlier this month and wrapped up this week as Team Russia made their way to Western Canada. CHL team were comprised of top players who left their CHL teams to participate, making this tournament a good chance to see top prospects stand out (or not) among their peers. Here’s a quick review of what went down:
Russia vs. QMJHL
The lead changed hands a few time in Game 1, but at the end of the day it was the Alex Khovanov (MIN) show – the captain led Russia to victory with 2 goals and 2 primary assists, all at even-strength. Not to be outdone, linemate Dmitry Zavgorodniy (CGY)also picked up 2 and 2, including the game-winner.
Game 2 swung the other way, as Raphael Lavoie (EDM) opened the scoring less than two minutes in, and closed the scoring less than two minutes into OT. This game was all about driving fast to the net, quick shots from in close, and having bodies in the crease to clean up the garbage. Not many penalties handed out to either tea in the two-game series, which made for some very fun hockey.
Russia vs. OHL
The big draw in this mini-series: future top-5 NHL draft pick Quinton Byfield (2020). He managed 2 assists in the OHL’s 4-1 win in the first contest, which favored the home team for the majority of the game. Akil Thomas (LAK) also managed two points, including an absolutely perfect pass to set up the draft-eligible Cole Perfetti (2020) for the eventual game-winner.
The series was once again halved with a win from Russia in Game 2. Dramatically outplayed in the first period, the push began with a powerplay rush from Vasili Podkolzin (VAN) that led to a rebound goal (he bullied his way to the net on more than one occasion). This one went to a shootout but it didn’t last long as Danil Savunov (ARI), Maxim Sorkin (undrafted), andIvan Morozov (VGK) went 3/3 to end the contest in only 3 rounds (spoiler alert, these clutch goals all get mentioned now to add extra impact later in the tournament…).
Russia vs. WHL
Team WHL took the first contest 2-1 in OT, thanks in part to alternate captain Bowen Byram (COL) who picked up the tying goal with the goalie pulled and an assist on the OT winner. Calen Addison (PIT) had the game winner in OT, but could have finished the game with a few points if it weren’t for Russian netminder Amir Miftakhov (undrafted) who committed highway robbery on a few Canadians this game (not just this game actually – in every game he played he managed to stop at least one or two sure goals).
Team Russia got their revenge in Game 2, winning 4-3 in a shootout. the WHL’s three goals all came on the powerplay, led by Nolan Foote (TBL) who picked up two from the crease. Captain Ty Smith (NJD) picked up a pair of assists (one primary, the other primary in spirit), and stayed at an even plus-minus rating unlike some of his counterparts on the back end. In extra time (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) – Danil Savunov, Maxim Sorkin, and Ivan Morozov went 3/3 to end the first shootout quickly. Yes, I just said first shootout.
The tournament would have ended in a tie between CHL and Russia, so a second shootout was performed to decide the tournament winner. This one was a nailbiter. On the verge of defeat, Russia changed goaltenders, putting in Miftakhov cold who stopped the next two shooters. Podkolzin scored on a clutch shot to send the shootout to sudden death. There, Dylan Cozens (BUF)came up big and won the tournament for the CHL.
FIRST NHL GOALS TIME!
They just keep coming! Halfway through November and I still have sizeable lists every week to fawn over. Keep it coming rookies.
What an amazing story – Justin Dowling nets his first in his hometown with a huge group of friends and family in attendance. This game rocks.
Vladislav Gavrikov cleans up the rebound for his first in Columbus:
Another Blue Jacket scoring his first from the doorstep – Eric Robinson. I feel like there might be a teachable lesson in here somewhere about things happening at the net…
From one of the craziest games I’ve watch so far this year – Ryan Lindgren with a beauty of a first (no it’s not a powerplay, that’s just how the game looked for one team or the other for all 60 minutes)
Jonas Siegenthaler gets gifted a pass with all the time in the world, and makes no mistake for his 1st
Blake Lizotte is playing a different sport, and playing it well.