10 takeaways from Game 1 of the CIBC Canada Russia Series

Denis Alexeev scored less than a minute into overtime as Russia defeated Team Western Hockey League 3-2 on Monday night in Game 1 of the CIBC Canada Russia Series.

The first game of the CIBC Canada Russia Series went Monday night in Prince George with Team Russia topping Team WHL 3-2 in overtime. The WHL never had a lead, but if you’re looking for a reason it didn’t put the game away, try 1-for-7 with the man advantage.

But this series is less about the wins (totally assumed and definitely expected in Canada) and more about the showcase. This is essentially the final chance for anyone to prove to Hockey Canada (and the Russian Federation) that he is worthy of being invited to the World Junior Championship selection camp in December. So it’s important. No doubt.

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The game began at 10 p.m. ET, and there were a few other things going on in the world (see: U.S. election eve, 2016). So in case you went to sleep or were otherwise distracted, here are 10 things you missed.

1. Nolan Patrick was not there (duh)
Patrick is the early favourite to go No.1 in the 2017 NHL Draft, but the Brandon centre and 2016 WHL Playoff MVP has been on the shelf with an upper-body injury since scoring two points versus Portland on Oct. 10. He has nine points in six games this season and is the only undrafted player with a good shot at being included on the world junior roster in December, if healthy. Think Jonathan Toews: Great for your favourite NHL team, good for your favourite NHL fantasy team.

CIBC Canada-Russia Series; WHL; Russia; Game 2

2. Four WHLers played for Russia
Big, powerful rookie Nikita Popugaev has been killing it for Moose Jaw all season and was instrumental in the first goal of the game. He’ll be a top-20 pick in June. WHL defencemen Dmitri Zaitsev (Moose Jaw, 207th by WSH in 2016), Sergey Zborovskiy (Regina, 79th by NYR in 2015) and Artem Minulin (Swift Current, 2017) were also on the ice, if not noticeable.

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3. Klim Kostin looks goooood
The Moscow Dynamo right winger is the best Russian on the 2017 draft board and looked the part Monday. The only player on the ice wearing a full cage took hits, initiated contact, drove the net, showed confidence with the puck and was generally all over the ice. He skates with that upright, “my stick is so long” style that’s becoming more popular these days with dangerous playmakers.

4. Russia’s crease
Looks to be in good shape. Anton Krasotkin stopped 38 shots, and made it look pretty easy while the WHL buzzed the zone for most of the game. He’s not Russia’s No. 1 at this age group, that job goes to Metallurg Magnitogorsk’s Ilya Samsonov (22nd by WSH in 2015) followed by Konstantin Volkov (168th by NSH in 2016), who will join Russia at this event for the final four games.

5. Nikita Li
The Moscow native showed some interesting flashes of speed and skill. The Moscow Spartak winger is one to watch as the series moves forward.

6. Trapezoid, schmapezoid
If you notice goaltenders ranging a little further from their nets than you’re used to, that’s because they are allowed to play the puck outside the trapezoid in this series.

7. Take a bow, boys
The best line of the night goes to Team WHL’s Austin Wagner-Sam Steel-Mason Shaw troika, which had just a goal, but was dangerous all night. Shaw, the WHL’s assist leader, was an injury addition but didn’t look it, making pretty passes all night, especially from the half wall. Steel was 13-for-16 in the faceoff circle and had obvious chemistry with WHL teammate Wagner, who’s fast as lightning.

8. He was on the ice?
Vancouver Giants forward Tyler Benson (32nd by EDM in 2016) was the one Canadian I was really looking forward to seeing, but that was hard. Not sure I heard his name called during gameplay until after it was 2-1 Russia in the third. Really thought he might be a guy who’d assert himself more. Granted, he was on the ice for the 2-2 goal.

9. He was on the ice? Pt. 2.
After Klostin, the Russian I was most interested to see was German Rubtsov (22nd by PHI in 2016). That wasn’t easy. #nowheretobefound

10. I hate the wave
To mark the halfway point of the game, the fans in Prince George did the wave. Can we please quit this. The wave is not cool.

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