Big win for Canada on first night of CIBC Canada/Rus­sia se­ries

Moose Jaw Express.com - - Sports - Lisa Ab­basi for Moose Jaw Ex­press

“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

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