Canada 8 - Russia 1
CANADA DOMINATES RUSSIA IN EXHIBITION PLAY
By Joe Fries
With an 8-1 drubbing of Russia Thursday night in Kamloops, Canada remained perfect in exhibition play leading up to the 2006 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Heading into a December 26 confrontation with Finland to open the tournament, the Canadians appeared confident and ready to play the hard-working style of hockey that Head Coach Brent Sutter is known for, much to the delight of the 5,281 in attendance.
Russia, meanwhile, showed it still needs to make some improvements on defence. Its offensive game will likely improve with the addition of superstar forward Evgeni Malkin, who watched the game from the stands. He arrived in B.C. from Russia just before the game and was tired after a long day of travel. Malkin will play for Russia once the tournament gets underway.
The game got off to a slow start, with the two teams feeling each other out in the opening stages. The pace picked up substantially halfway through the first period. Canada’s Andrew Cogliano had the only goal of the period, putting home a rebound for a power play marker at 17:11.
Kirill Lyamin netted Russia’s only goal of the game at 9:36 of the second period. But the floodgates opened for Canada when Kristopher Letang scored at 12:03, another power play goal and the first of three Canadian tallies in the second frame. Benoit Pouliot notched one at 16:15 on a 4-on-3 power play and Dustin Boyd scored another at 19:47. Canada took a 4-1 lead into the dressing room through two periods.
Boyd opened the third-period scoring with his second of the night at 3:36. Less than a minute later, Jonathan Toews got his first of two consecutive goals at 4:26 and 11:32 respectively. His second tally was unassisted, coming as a result of a tenacious effort. Kyle Chipchura rounded out the scoring at 19:54.
Canadian forwards Blake Comeau and Andrew Cogliano each bolstered the attack with a pair of assists.
Team Russia’s starting goaltender, Anton Khubodin, was replaced at the start of the third period by Ivan Kasutin. The back-up netminder didn’t fare any better, as both goalies allowed four goals.
Canadian goaltender Justin Pogge played a solid game, making 27 saves. He stopped two Russian breakaways in the final four minutes, and the crowd chanted his name. Pogge was named Canada’s Player of the Game.
The first two periods were slowed considerably by a steady parade to the penalty box. Canada made the most of its chances, going 4-for-10 on the power play.
Canadian Head Coach Brent Sutter said he was happy with his team, which seemed to come to life midway through the first period.
“I thought after the first ten or twelve minutes we settled down. Once we got into the flow of the game and started playing our system, we seemed to build off that,” said Sutter.
Responding to a reporter’s suggestion that the Russians may have given up after Canada took a 4-1 lead, Sutter was stolid: “I don’t care what they do. I don’t care whether it’s an exhibition game or not. It’s important to gain momentum.”
Seventeen-year-old Canadian forward Jonathan Toews was happy with the way his team performed but was not prepared to write off the Russians, who play one more exhibition December 23 versus Switzerland in Vernon.
“You never know, Russia has a good team,” said Toews. “It could have been different. But I think we’ve got a lot of skill and people might underestimate us.”
In the wake of tonight’s lopsided victory over the Russians, it’s unlikely any teams will be taking the Canadians lightly once the tournament begins.
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André Brin Director, Communications | Directeur, communications