Russia vs Canada Black
By DAVE PAUL
Sunday November 2, 2014
Sarnia,ON: It was a rough opening day for the host country, at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge, Sunday at RBC Centre.
In the afternoon, Canada White lost 5-1 to Finland while in the evening the Canada Black squad lost to Russia by an identical 5-1 score.
On Monday evening the two teams will play each other -- so one of them will pick up a win.
The nightcap in Sunday's hockey action was bit of an odd game, which took only two hours to complete -- including pre-game ceremonies.
The first period, in particular, featured very few whistles and seemed like a fast-paced, free-wheeling, wide-open period of hockey. Yet the shots on goal at the end of the opening 20 minutes were only 5-3 in Russia's favour.
The score favoured the Russians, 2-0 as Maxim Bain and Dmitri Sokolov, on a power play, tallied for the visitors.
North Bay Battalion forward Zach Poirier jammed a puck past Russian goalie Vladislav Sukhachyov five minutes into the second period to cut the deficit to 2-1. But Russia's Nikita O. Popugayev (the Russian team actually has two players named Nikita Popugayev) restored the two-goal Russian lead, 59 seconds later.
In the third period, the Canadians pressed to try to mount a comeback, but still didn't get many shots on goal. When they did, acrobatic Russian goalie Sukhachyov was equal to the task.
The Russians, meanwhile, spent much of the first half of the final period trying to spring players on breakaways. None of those passes connected, but at 12:12 Kirill Petkov made a fantastic pass all the way across the Sting defensive zone to set up Sokolov for his second goal of the contest.
Mikhail Mesheryakov finished off the scoring two minutes later, beating beleaguered Canadian goalie Stuart Skinner, of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, for a power play goal.
Neither team reached 20 shots on goal in the contest -- final totals were 18-18.
That's something that Canada coach Kelly Nobes, of McGill University, wants to see change in his team's next contest.
"I actually thought we had a decent game," said Nobes. "We were much better without the puck, than we were in our first game (an exhibition contest vs. Sweden)."
"But," added Nobes, "something we didn't do is shoot the puck enough. We got inside the tops of the circles and we had some good shooting opportunities but we were just a little too slow to let it go ... or we were trying to make another pass.
"We need to shoot the puck more and try to get second and third opportunities," concluded Nobes.
Game time for Monday's all-Canada match-up -- White vs. Black -- is 7 p.m. at RBC Centre.
Go to U17