Given the lopsided series advantage for Canada over the four years of the Canada-Russia Challenge, the 4-3 outcome of Monday night’s tilt in Oshawa was not at all surprising.
Forgetting the CHL’s dominant run through the 22 games played so far in the four years, the game at the newly minted General Motors Centre between the OHL All-Stars and the Russian Selects was a truly entertaining and intense affair. This contest offered a little bit of everything, including skilled playmaking, thundering hits and solid goaltending.
But what turned into an intense battle didn’t look so special through the first period and the early portion of the second as the OHL built a 3-1 lead off goals by center Ryan O’Marra (New York Islanders, 1st round – 2005), defenseman Patrick McNeill (Washington Capitals, 4th round – 2005) and right wing Steve Downie (Philadelphia Flyers, 1st round – 2005). Were it not for some great goaltending by Russian goaltender Ilia Proskuryakov, a rout surely would have ensued given the OHL’s ability to create several outstanding scoring chances at the expense of the overwhelmed Russian forwards and defense. Indeed, with the shot clock showing the OHL with a 22-9 advantage at the 13.50 mark of the second period, it seemed that a blowout was inevitable.
But the Russian squad found their legs at this point in the game while the OHL players seemed to lose their edge. The Russian forwards, who were smothered through the first half of the game by the bigger and talented OHL defensive corps, finally were able to create some room for themselves in t Read more»