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World Junior Championships Recap: Canada v Russia, Round 1

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BUFFALO NY - DECEMBER 26:  Ryan Ellis #6 of Canada shoots during the 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship Group B game between Canada and Germany on December 26 2010 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
BUFFALO NY - DECEMBER 26: Ryan Ellis #6 of Canada shoots during the 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship Group B game between Canada and Germany on December 26 2010 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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I'll try to bring as much recap coverage as I can from the WJCs. Unless someone has a specific request or a game is particularly awesome, I'll be focusing on Teams Canada and USA.

I came into the game as the second period began, so I don’t have anything for you about the first. Sorry! My general first impressions were that Canada had the better defenseman, especially offensively. Strong, smart play in the offensive zone with intelligently timed pinching. They seemed to struggle some in the defensive zone, however, scrambling when the Russians put on pressure through cycling the puck.

The Russians are a fast team with creative cycling and a keen ability to take away the puck in the neutral zone. They also have a tendency to give away the puck a lot, and their defense just wasn’t up to snuff a lot of the time. Brilliant plays followed by face palms. Remind you of anyone?  Yeah, me too.

The worst team on the ice was wearing black and white stripes. I could not believe the missed calls; it was crazy. It almost seemed like old time hockey where grabbing, tripping, and rough stuff after the whistle were all overlooked. Their off-side calls were horrendous, as well. The good news is that there wasn’t any favoritism; both teams got the shaft (or the breaks, depending on how you look at it).

Neither team was sporting great goaltending. The goalies seemed to overcommit too often and be slow to react. Each let in soft goals. In the end, Olivier Roy, Canada’s goalie, got the win, but I give the rest of the Canadian team a lot of credit for that as they prevented almost half as many shots as they took. To their credit, however, both net minders did have some great saves.

Russia struck first in the initial period, but Canada answered back. In the second, scoring opened up as Canada lit it up again; Ryan Ellis let one fly from the point, shooting wide purposefully. It bounced off the boards right behind Igor Babkov, who kicked it in his own net. Then Russia’s Nikita Dvurechenski netted one five hole off a slick wrister. Canada’s turn again off a blistering shot by Erik Gudbrandson from the point. Russia didn’t let that get to them, though, as Danil Sobchenko scored their third of the night on the power play off some great cycling.  Canada ended the period with some sustained pressure, which they took into the third.

Canada dominated from the get-go, and Russia got frustrated. Taking a couple of stupid penalties, they put the nail in their own coffin as Canada capitalized on their opportunities. On the first PP, Russia was stuck in their zone and scrambling in front of their net. It was only a matter of time before Canada’s Ryan Johansen shoveled one in. 4-3 Canada. Fast forward to the next power play two minutes later when Russia broke down defensively, leaving Brayden Schenn wide open to receive the pass as he was pinching in. Canada up 5-3.

Russia started to create some offense, but our very own Tyson Barrie put a stop to it with a HUGE hit behind the net. The Russians were never able to reorganize and get things going after that. They even seemed to have given up, failing to get to pucks first because of lackluster skating. Canada finished the game with a last goal by Curtis Hamilton with 26 seconds left. Final score: Canada 6, Russia 3.

Players of the game:
Canada - Ryan Ellis
Russia - Vladamir Tarasenko

Interesting facts:

  • about ½ as many Russians are in the NHL now as were in the league 10 years ago
  • Canada is 32-1 in the first round
  • 12 Canadians had points in the game

Next Game for Canada: December 28th v Czech Republic, 2pm MT/4pm ET

Other scores today:
Sweden: 7 - Norway: 1
Switzerland: 4 - Germany: 3