RUSSIA EMERGES VICTORIOUS IN GAME 1 OF CANADA/RUSSIA SERIES

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    Jansen Harkins of the Prince George Cougars who had a goal and was named the player of the game for Team WHL, photo by: Matt Jensen Photography.

    Looking to win their second opening game in the Canada/Russia series, the WHL side didn’t get off to the start they wanted. Anton Krasotkin bobbled the first puck he saw, but was able to drop down and hold on for Russia. Connor Ingram meanwhile wasn’t so lucky. A long shot courtesy of Alexander Volkov from the right wall deflected off the netminders skate, and into the net for the 1-0 lead just 1:13 in.

    Shortly after the WHL team earned a power play, and Regina Pats standout Sam Steel nearly evened the score snapping a shot wide left. As the man advantage was expiring, Mason Shaw sent a puck backdoor, but Giorgio Estephan was denied by Krasotkin sliding to his right. The home side would be stopped on their second power play of the night, but just after it expired Deven Sideroff coming down the right wing spun, and passed the puck to the front of the net where Prince George Cougars star Jansen Harkins was able to beat the goalie to tie the game.

    Russia would head to the power play eventually in the period, but it didn’t last long as the Regina Pats duo of Steel and Austin Wagner broke out for a two-on-one. Steel passed to Wagner, and he was hauled down putting the two teams at four-on-four.

    Harkins nearly doubled his goal production on the night with 30 seconds to go, but Krasotkin came up with a big save to keep the game tied heading to the second. Shots were 16-7 for the WHL after one.

    The second period saw a repeat of power plays, with the WHL going up a man on three occasions including 44 seconds of 5-on-3, and the Russians getting one. Neither team was successful as Russia was six for six on the kill.

    Ty Ronning of the Vancouver Giants had an early jump up the ice, and cut to the middle from the left side but the puck was knocked off his stick and he was unable to get a shot away. That was followed by the pair of Russian penalties, but the WHL side wasn’t able to generate any serious chances despite being up by two players for 44 seconds.

    Before the halfway mark, Russia got a power play of their own, but again it was the Regina duo stirring up trouble. Wagner stole the puck inside the blue line, and passed to Steel on the inside of the right circle, but his one-timer was stopped.

    Just before the second ended, Klim Kostin stole the puck behind the net, and fed the puck out front. The original shot was stopped, and Kostin picked up the rebound but sent the shot high. Shots were hard to come by for both sides as the WHL had eight for a two period total of 24, and Russia had 10 for a two period total of 17.

    Russia would retake the lead early in the third as a pretty passing play was finished off with the trailer Danila Kvartalnov snapping a shot in for the 2-1 lead. The WHL power play would finally break through around the halfway mark as they were able to convert on their 7th opportunity. It wasn’t pretty, but with a scramble in front of the net, Sam Steel who looked great all night was able to dig in the puck to tie the game.

    The Russians earned a power play of their own with three minutes to go, but the WHL team was able to kill it off, and send the game to overtime. It took less than a minute in for the Russians to seal the deal as Denis Alexeev scored on the first shot of extra time. Coming down the left side, the forward who plays for Ryazan of the VHL over in Russia used Cal Foote as a screen, and sent a shot off the blueliner’s stick and into the net.

    Jonas Harkins of the Prince George Cougars had the first goal of the game for his team, and was named the player of the game for the WHL. With the OT winner, Denis Alexeev was named the top player for his squad.

    Each of the last four years, the team to win the first game has gone on to win the Canada/Russia series. The teams will now head to Edmonton tomorrow for game 2 in Rogers Place.

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