Team OHL puts on a show

Se­lect team re­mains un­de­feated in Sar­nia by beat­ing Rus­sia 3-1

The Observer (Sarnia) - - SPORTS - MARK MAL­ONE NEWS

No city in the On­tario Hockey League has hosted the Canada Rus­sia Se­ries more than Sar­nia.

Based on Team OHL’s suc­cess at Pro­gres­sive Auto Sales Arena, the Cana­dian Hockey League may want to con­sider vis­it­ing even more of­ten.

Bar­rett Hay­ton of the Soo Grey­hounds had a goal and an as­sist as Team OHL beat Team Rus­sia 3-1 be­fore 2,471 fans Thurs­day in Game 3 of the an­nual se­ries that be­gan in 2003.

Team OHL has a 4-0 record in Sar­nia while al­low­ing a to­tal of only two goals.

“It’s al­ways tough when you get a bunch of guys like that and throw them to­gether on a team,” Soo Grey­hounds for­ward Mor­gan Frost said. “Most of them haven’t played to­gether be­fore. I think we did a great job. We had a re­ally good group of guys in the room there, we had some fun and it was nice to get the win.”

MacKen­zie En­twistle of the Hamil­ton Bull­dogs scored on a penalty shot. Isaac Rat­cliffe of the Guelph Storm had the other goal for Team OHL, which is 25-5-1-0 in the se­ries.

Sar­nia Sting cap­tain Ryan Mc­Gre­gor was held off the score­sheet. He played on a line with Frost and Ryan McLeod of the Mis­sis­sauga Steel­heads.

Team Rus­sia plays six games – two apiece against each CHL league – in the se­ries. The CHL has a 63-23-1-6 all-time record.

Hockey Canada uses the se­ries to eval­u­ate play­ers for the na­tional ju­nior team’s se­lec­tion camp.

Steel­heads for­ward Owen Tip­pett is play­ing in the se­ries for the third time. He hopes to earn a trip to the world ju­nior tour­na­ment in Van­cou­ver and Vic­to­ria.

“Ev­ery time you sit down at Christ­mas time it’s on TV, so you want to be able to play in it,” he said. “That’s ob­vi­ously a goal in mind.”

Wind­sor Spit­fires goal­tender Michael DiPi­etro is the favourite to be Team Canada’s starter. He played the en­tire game Thurs­day and made 18 saves.

“Our de­fence did a great job killing plays at the blue-line, mak­ing sure I could see pucks from the point and clear­ing out the ini­tial shot,” he said. “It made my life eas­ier and I’m re­ally happy to win.”

Al­though the teams com­bined for only seven shots in the first pe­riod, the mes­sage in the Team OHL locker-room wasn’t de­fence­first, DiPi­etro said. It was to play a com­plete game.

“Play­ing the Cana­dian way: dis­ci­plined hockey, hard and fast, re­lent­less on the puck,” he said.

Rat­cliffe opened the scor­ing less than five min­utes into the first pe­riod.

En­twistle put Team OHL ahead 2-0 at 18:05, ri­fling his penalty shot over the right shoul­der of Team Rus­sia goalie Daniil Tarasov.

Pavel Shen got that goal back by one-tim­ing a pass from Stepan Starkov past DiPi­etro with 43 sec­onds left in the pe­riod.

“For my­self, it was dif­fi­cult men­tally in the be­gin­ning,” DiPi­etro said about the lack of shots, “but as the game wore on, it felt more com­fort­able in there.”

Hay­ton earned his Team OHL player of the game hon­our by split­ting two de­fend­ers for a high­lightreel goal mid­way through the sec­ond pe­riod.

Guelph Storm de­fence­man Ryan Merkley was wowed by all the ta­lent on Team OHL, which was coached by De­rian Hatcher, David Leg­wand and Brad Staub­itz of the Sting.

“We have a lot of fire­power up front. Some elite for­wards,” Merkley said. “Mikey had a great game. At the start of the third, he was great for us (and) kept us in there. …

“It’s un­real. You make a pass and th­ese guys are 50-goal scor­ers, 100point guys, so it’s nice to play with (them). They’re in­cred­i­ble.”

Frost praised how well they came to­gether as a team.

“We got a mes­sage from Team Canada on how to play that way,” he said. “I think we just tried to stick to that game plan. Get pucks in and limit their chances and I think we did a pretty good job of that.”

Rus­sia and the West­ern Hockey League split the first two games in the se­ries ear­lier in the week.

Game 4 will be Mon­day in Os­hawa, then the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League hosts the fi­nal two games Tues­day in Sher­brooke and Thurs­day, Nov. 15, in Drum­mondville. mmalone@post­media.com

MARK MAL­ONE/POST­MEDIA

OHL's Nick Suzuki (37) jumps be­tween Team Rus­sia's Stepan Starkov (10) and Pavel Shen (16) in the first pe­riod of Game 3 in the Canada Rus­sia Se­ries at Pro­gres­sive Auto Sales Arena on Thurs­day.

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