Big win for Canada on first night of CIBC Canada/Russia series
“We’re just going to open the gate and let the boys play…we have a template for them to play, but it’s not going to be complicated,” Head Coach Tim Hunter said hours before the first game during the 2017 CIBC Canada/Russia series.
Right off the gate, Team WHL played like pros, as Moose Jaw’s Mosaic Ice proudly hosted the first of six games. This exhibition hockey tournament featured a team of 20 WHL players and 26 on the team of Russian junior players; star-quality players representing the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) teams. Although this was the second year the tournament was held in Moose Jaw with title sponsor CIBC, this was actually the tournament’s 14th consecutive year. Team WHL came out on top with a final 7-0 score during the first game of the series.
The first goal was scored in Period One by player number 26, Kole Lind of Kelowna, who also scored the third goal of the game halfway through second period, coming away with the CIBC Team WHL ‘Player of the Game’ award. Assisting with that first goal were players 21 and 10, Tampa Bay prospect, Brett Howden and LA Kings prospect, Kale Clague (Brandon). Goal number two got led into the net by Victoria Royals team member Matthew Phillips’s blade at 5 minutes 13 seconds into the second with Kale Clague making his second assist while Regina player Josh Mahura accompanied that assist. Less than five minutes after the second puck landed in Team Russia’s net, fans cheered as Lind made WHL’s third goal assisted by Michael Rasmussen (Tri-City) and Cody Glass (Portland).
With morale charged after the three-initial team WHL goals and nearing the end of the second peri- od, a fourth goal was then scored by Moose Jaw’s beloved Captain Brett Howden (#21). Detroit NHL prospect Dennis Cholowski (Prince George) and Brandon Wheat Kings’ Tanner Kaspick assisted at 17:44. Further impressing fans and sending an enthusiastic roar through the stadium, with a mere 36.9 seconds left in the second period, Swift Current player number 17, Tyler Steenbergen and his assisters, Sam Steel (Regina) and Dillon Dube (Kelowna) popped the fifth goal in. Although Team WHL was skating high during period two, Jake Bean (Calgary) suffered an injury at around the eight-minute mark, although he quickly recovered and returned to his position.
Team Russia players, on the other hand, appeared frustrated, as the referees simmered tempers and broke up fights during the first five minutes of period three. One such fight began immediately following goal number six. Cody Glass, with assists from Lind and Rasmussen (again) placed that goal, and then three and a half minutes later, Kelowna’s Dillon Dube assisted by Brandon Wheat Kings’ players, Kale Clague and Ty Lewis (Colorado). Andrei Altybarmakyan of St. Petersburg (NHL Chicago Blackhawks prospect) came away with CIBC Team Russia ‘Player of the Game’ award. Clague probably also should have but did not- receive a Team WHL ‘Player of the Game’ award, since he performed multiple assists throughout the series opener. Brett Howden’s assertion, “you can’t look too far ahead, just focus on the games at hand” will likely serve him well moving forward, since he took a hit late into the third period, temporarily crushing plans at the moment. Warriors’ General Manager, Alan Millar was unavailable for comment on the extent of Howden’s injury. With the first few 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series events out of the way, fans can look forward to the remainder of upcoming games, including Game 4 on Monday, November 13 at Sudbury, ON; Game 5 on Tuesday, November 14 at Charlottetown; and Game 6 on Thursday, November 16 at Moncton, NB. The games can be viewed nationally in Canada on Sportsnet and social media followers can join in @CHLHockey using #CANvsRUS.
Ceremonial puck drop begins the game
Team Canada scores goal number five at 19 minutes 24 seconds in the second period
Carter Hart 70 blocks a shot preventing Team Russia from scoring at 7 minutes 46 seconds remaining during period three