There was no lack of effort on the part of Team OHL in the first of their pair of games against Russia in the 2013 Subway Super Series. But Russia converted on most of their best chances, sending the OHL to a 5-2 defeat at General Motors Centre in Oshawa, ON.
The OHL fired 43 shots at Russian goaltender Ivan Nalimov, but the Russian Player of the Game was equal to the task on all but two shots. The players in front of Nalimov did a fair job of preventing second chances off of rebounds, but the SKA St. Petersburg netminder was there to smother the puck when his teammates failed to clear the puck.
The main OHL offensive contributor – on the scoresheet, at least – was Owen Sound Attack defenseman Chris Bigras. The Colorado Avalanche prospect picked up two assists on goals by Kerby Rychel, the OHL Player of the Game, and Brock McGinn. In describing the plays that were made to register those two assists, Bigras seemed to downplay his contributions to those markers.
“On my part, they were just simple plays, just hitting a guy when I saw them and letting the forwards do the work on a couple of good shots, low, that found their way through,” explained Bigras.
The second goal in particular was an odd one, with Bigras lifting the puck out of his zone, seemingly to become a souvenir for some lucky fan. But instead of landing in the crowd, the puck dropped just inside the Russian blue line, where McGinn pounced on the puck and knuckled a shot over Nalimov's stick side to tie the game at two.
But Russia would regain the lead later in the second frame, and would add to that lead in the third period on their way to the win.
For Bigras, the Russian style of play is one that he has not had much of a chance to see up close other than on video. But breaking their game down in the video room didn't make it any easier to defend against on the ice.
“It's a bit of a different style, it's more of a run-and-gun style,” Bigras said of the Russians. “But we kind of expected that from them from watching video, but they still found a way to capitalize on their chances.
“They capitalize on all of their chances, so if there's a turnover or any chance they see, they jump on it and do a good job of capitalizing on it.”
But the real key for the Russian victory was the play of Nalimov as the shots on goal were a lopsided 43-22 in favor of the OHL.
“Yeah, he certainly played well,” admitted Bigras. “He was named Player of the Game for a reason. We had some good cycle shifts and had some good opportunities, but just couldn't finish."
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