Canada 4 @ Russia 2
The final game in the exhibition series took place in Halifax last night and ended in a decisive victory for Team Canada. Although Game 4 got off to a similar start to the night before with Russia taking two early leads despite finding themselves mostly hemmed in their own zone or conceding possession for changes and setting up defensively at even-strength. The Canadians finally took the lead (their first since Game 1 of the series), though, nearly midway through the second period and they never relented. Team Russia did manage to generate some quality scoring chances but could not muster a much-needed goal before the game slipped away for good late in the final period. It did help that the Russian coaching staff opted, until just a handful of minutes remained, to keep its team passive and structured in the neutral zone in an apparent attempt to conserve their young squad's energy. For much of the time they trailed, Russia seemed content to try and mount a comeback with selective counterattacks and opportunistic play and, failing that, to try and decide the series in overtime.
Russia 6 @ Canada 5
The third installment in the commemorative exhibition series was played tonight in Halifax, with the Russians, after a convincing victory in Yaroslavl last Friday, just squeaking past Team Canada 6-5. To Russia's credit, they never trailed, but Canada carried the play for most of the game and may have deserved a better fate. Truth be told, Laurent Brossoit's poor showing (6 GA on just 27 SOG) in net for the Canada was probably the difference as the Russians got an alternately superb and suspect effort from Andrey Makarov who stopped 37 of 42 shots in his second straight start.
Russia 6 @ Canada 3
For the second time in as many days, two teams studded with juniors stars battled on ice in Yaroslavl. The Russians avenged their narrow defeat yesterday by thumping the Canadian squad 6-3 in what was the second match of the Canada-Russia Challenge. Canada made the game close twice but the Russia, much more aggressive, able to maintain possession and in control of the pace for much of the game, put the game out of reach in the third. The Russians were good but the Canadians, between lapses in positioning, miscues and too many trips to the penalty box, were equal parts sloppy today.
Canada 3 @ Russia 2
An All-Star team of Canadian juniors defeated a similar group of Russian juniors 3-2 today in Game 1 of the four-game Canada-Russia Challenge. Three Lightning prospects played in the match, including new prospects Andrei Vasilevski – a first round pick of Tampa Bay in June – and recent free agent signee Artem Sergeev. Vasilevski allowed three goals – all in the second period – including a wrist shot by likely 2013 top-10 pick Sean Monahan. According to the TSN Radio broadcast, Vasilevski (pictured at the Lightning's prospect camp) came up with several big saves in the third period to keep Russia in the game at 3-1, then 3-2. Nail Yakupov, the top pick in the 2012 draft, scored on a 5-on-3 power play in the third period to cut Canada’s lead to one goal. The Oilers pick one-timed a shot from the circle off of a feed from Sergeev. Nesterov also saw power play time for Russia.
The game-winning goal was scored by Bruins prospect Dougie Hamilton, who’s shot from the point got by a screened Vasilevski.
Cody Nickolet, a WHL reporter, singled out Sergeev and Nesterov as having impressive games. He said Vasilevski was good, but “could have had a couple of those goals” and was outplayed by Canada’s Malcolm Subban (Bruins) in the game.
Brendan Ross of Dobber Prospects and The Hockey Writers said Vasilevski had an average showing and consistency remains an issue for the first goalie taken in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
The game was played in Yaroslavl, site of last year’s deadly airline crash that killed 44 players and coaches from Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL. Friday’s Game 2 will also be played in Yaroslavl before Games 3 and 4 are held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next week.
The series is being played as a tribute to the Lokomotiv club. It also marks the 40th anniversary of the famed Canada-Russia Summit Series of 1972. Lightning founder Phil Esposito, a member of Canada’s ’72 squad, is reportedly on the trip with Team Canada this year.
(Eric DuBose photo)
As uncertain as things have traditionally been for the Lightning between the pipes, the defenseman position may be even more unsettled at this point in the offseason. After cheating father time for much of the 2011-2012 season, age caught up to many of the Lightning's veteran defensemen in 2012-2013. Mattias Ohlund may never play another NHL game after the 35 year old's knee finally gave out after over 900 games of NHL service.