During the 11-day period between November 21 and December 1, 2005, the Canadian Hockey League played host to the Russian Selects in the 2005 ADT Canada-Russia Challenge. The tournament is played over a series of six games across Canada, pitting the stars of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and Western Hockey League against Russian select juniors. Each Canadian star could only play in a maximum of two games each, as each of the three leagues was entitled to name its own members to the team as the tournament passed through its area of the country. With the exception of Alexandre Radulov, all the Russian Selects were on the roster for every game, i.e., 6 games in 11 nights.
The Challenge was first played in 2003, and not surprisingly, given its format, Canada has won in each previous year. The Canadian Hockey League stars continued to dominate this year. Many of those players were seeking to be named to the 2006 Canadian WJC Selection Camp (announced today). Despite the poor showing of the Russian team, several individual Russian players showed real promise. A summary of the games and the players that stood out follows.
QMJHL v Russia
The first two games of the tournament were played in Drummondville, Quebec and Moncton, New Brunswick. In the first game, the score was tied after the first period, when the QMJHL All-Stars went on a goal rampage. The Canadians won the game 7-4. In the second game, it took until the third period for the Canadian team to explode. They scored 4 goals in the third period, against a Russian team that looked like it had run out of gas, and won the game 6-4. The QMJHL-hosted games were a showcase for three Russian and three Canadian players.
Alexandre Radulov (NAS) scored 1 goal and 2 assists in the one game in which he played, and was named the game’s second star. Clearly the best Russian player on the ice during the Drummondville game, Radulov is a right winger for the QMJHL Quebec Remparts during the regular season. His playmaking ability and scoring touch were both on display. Overall, Radulov is having a fantastic year, leading his team with 63 points (28 goals, 35 assists) in 27 games, which is currently the third highest point total in the QMJHL. He should be playing professionally within the Nashville organization next fall.
Alexandre Mayer scored 2 goals in the first QMJHL game and 1 goal in the second. He also scored a goal in the OHL games. The 19-year-old Mayer looked confident on the ice, but he fit the mold of many young Russian players who have a goal scorer’s touch, but who have not yet learned to play the team game.
Sergei Ogorodnikov (NYI), who served as the captain of the Russian Selects team, assisted on two goals in the Moncton, NB game. Additionally, he had a goal and an assist in the OHL games; and 2 more goals on the WHL portion of the series. Although Radulov looked better in the one game in which he played, Ogorodnikov was by far the best Russian player through the whole series. He is a steadying influence on the ice, a great natural leader, good soft hands and he skates well.
Guillaume Latendresse (MON) garnered 5 goals and 1 assist in the 2 games, and walked off with first star in both games. He impressed everyone who saw him step on the ice; his poise and confidence were obvious, and he showed great physical instincts. Currently a member of the Drummondville Voltigeurs, Latendresse has 40 points (22 goals, 18 assists) in 25 games. He is a star in the making.
Derick Brassard (2006 eligible), is a center that is ranked #21 by ISS in November 2005. Brassard, who currently has 55 points (17 goals, 38 assists), has been named QMJHL Offensive Player of the Week this week. In the two QMJHL games he garnered 4 assists and was all over the ice. He plays with energy, sees the ice extremely well, and has excellent passing ability.
Frederic St-Denis (2006 eligible), a defenseman with good vision on the ice, had 2 assists in the Drummondville game. St-Denis missed the second game of the series with a knee injury. Currently not ranked in the ISS top 150 for this year’s draft, St-Denis has 38 points (8 goals, 30 assists) in 30 games, second in the league for defensemen, and was named QMJHL Defensive Player of the Week for the week ending November 28. St-Denis’s play of late should draw scouts’ attention and increase his chances of being drafted.
OHL v Russia
The ADT Canada-Russia Challenge moved to Kitchener, ON on November 24, 2005 for the first of two games between the OHL All-Stars and the Russian Selects. The Canadians won the first game 5-2. The series then moved on to Peterborough, ON, and the OHL stars took that game 5-1. In the two OHL games, both Mayer and Ogorodnikov continued to perform well for Russia. The OHL games really belonged to Wojtek Wolski, who showed why the Colorado Avalanche had such a hard time sending him back to juniors this year.
Wojtek Wolski (COL) had 3 goals and 1 assist in the first game, and 1 goal in the game played in Peterborough. He was outskating all the other players, and his hockey sense was second to none. He has a nose for the puck and very soft hands. In 16 games for the OHL Brampton Batallion, Wolski has accumulated 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists). He is a star in the making and will stick the next time he gets a chance to play in Colorado.
David Bolland (CHI) had 2 goals and 3 assists in the two OHL games. A natural leader, the league’s top scorer (68 points in 27 games) was all over the ice in both games. He is not afraid to take the body and can really skate. Bolland should be in the professional ranks next year.
Liam Reddox (EDM) had 2 goals in the game in Peterborough. The left winger is a natural leader and has 31 points (10 goals, 21 assists) in 26 games with the Peterborough Petes. Reddox is a gritty player who likes to mix it up, and his goals were the result of his hard work and high energy.
Daniel Ryder (CAL) impressed by setting up his teammate Reddox twice in the game in Peterborough. A steady center, Ryder sees the ice well and does not shy away from contact.
Russian Igor Makarov (2006 eligible) had 1 goal and 1 assist in the QMJHL games, and 1 goal in the OHL games. He is a smooth skater with very good vision on the ice. Makarov is #22 in the November 2005 ISS rankings of 2006 eligible players.
WHL v Russia
Canada’s rout of the Russian Selects continued when the series moved to the West. In the two WHL games, in Saskatoon and Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada won by scores of 9-2 and 3-1. The one bright spot for the Russian Selects was the play of the captain Sergei Ogorodnikov, who scored both the goals for Russia in the 9-2 loss.
Devin Setoguchi (SJ) was the eighth player overall to be picked in the 2005 entry draft, and his performance in the game he played showed why. He had 3 goals in the one game in which he played, and was overpowering on the ice. His vision, hands, and heavy shot make Segotuchi a potential superstar. He was just named WHL Player of the Month after he recorded 23 points in 14 games in November. The Saskatoon Blade has accumulated 39 points (14 goals, 25 assists) in 31 regular season games.
Kyle Chipchura (MON) was able to score 1 goal and 3 assists in the two WHL games. He used his strength and passing ability to make things happen out on the ice. The Prince Albert Raider center leads his team in points (21 points in 27 games), but still has quite a bit to prove before he can be considered a legitimate candidate for the NHL.
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