The CHL took a 3-2 series lead last night in Red Deer as
Team WHL dominated the guest Russia Selects en route to a 6-0 pasting. Both Andrew Ladd (CAR) and Eric
Fehr (WSH) had two-goal performances while Calgary Hitmen center Ryan
Getzlaf (ANA) had a goal and an assist on the night.
Ladd, the fourth overall draft pick in 2004, opened the
scoring by hammering in a loose puck after Russian keeper Andrei Kuznetsov
stopped a Braydon Coburn (ATL) point blast.
Ten minutes later it was time for the Manitoba connection to
dent the score sheet. Brandon teammates
Eric Fehr and Ryan Stone (PGH), were joined by highflying Winnipeg
native Nigel Dawes (NYR) of the Kootenay Ice to make a trio that was
dangerous all night long.
Early in the first period, Dawes broke in and undressed a
much larger Russian defender before ringing a wrist shot off the iron, an
attempt that the beyond capacity crowd of 6443 fans all believed was in. The 5’8, 180 lb winger is considered a
shoo-in to be back for the World Junior Championships this winter, but he isn’t
taking anything for granted.
“I had a pretty good tournament
last year, but again, nothing is guaranteed and you have to go in there, work
hard and earn your spot again,” said Dawes.
“It was a bad way to end the tournament (last year) and I think the
returning guys are going to help with the new guys to get the gold medal and
bring it back to Canada.”
A few minutes after the near miss by Dawes, Fehr converted a
sweet pass from Stone and gave Team WHL a 2-0 lead.
“I think our line played pretty good as a whole tonight,”
Fehr said smiling after the game. “We
were getting a lot of scoring chances and we probably could have had a few
more, but I think it’s good to see that all four lines are contributing too.”
“I’m just hoping for an invite in
the next couple of weeks here,” continued the winger from Winkler,
Manitoba. “(My confidence) is pretty
high, I’m feeling the puck really well and I’ve got my sights set but you can’t
take anything for granted in hockey, so you have to work as hard as you can and
hope they see what they want.”
After playing well together during the summer training camp
and again here in Red Deer, one could make a convincing argument that not only
should Dawes, Fehr and Stone make the final Canada roster, but also that they
would be a very effective line.
“It’s always a bonus when you have good chemistry and you
can make things happen, that’s what the guys upstairs are looking for and I
think we showed that tonight,” agreed Dawes.
“It’s always fun to play with two guys the caliber of Eric and Ryan.”
Stefan Meyer (FLA) potted the host side’s third goal
in the dwindling minutes of the opening frame on a fantastic individual
effort. Barreling down the right-hand
wall on a potential 2-on-1 opportunity, Meyer sidestepped the Russian blueliner
and recovered control of the puck just in time to bury it past Kuznetsov.
Russia’s best chance in the entire game came at the end of
the first period when Roman Voleshenko (MIN) took off on a breakaway but
met up with the left pad of goaltender Jeff Glass (OTT). The Kootenay goaltender faced just 11 shots
through his two periods of work and barely broke a sweat doing it.
It was more of the same in period two when a power play shot
from the stick of Shea Weber (NSH) was redirected by Getzlaf, putting
the WHL up by four goals. Originally
the tally was awarded to Jeremy Colliton (NYI) who was also in front of
the net acting as a screen on the play.
Minutes later on another man advantage, Mike Green’s
(WSH) fanned slapper from the blueline saw the puck slide over neatly to Fehr
who was free to fire the gift in for the home team’s fifth goal. The power play would add one more before the
end of the night when Andrew Ladd notched his second on a terrific feed from Hitmen
linemate Ryan Getzlaf.
Although Rejean Beauchemin (PHI) started the third
period for Team WHL, he also was rarely tested and was forced to stop just six
shots against on way to keeping the host’s shutout intact. Overall, Team ‘Dub’ outshot the Russians by
a wide 39-17 margin, which made evaluating his goaltenders that much harder for
WHL Head Coach Brent Sutter.
“Yeah, it’s tough when you don’t give up that many shots
but, that’s the way we want to play though too,” Sutter said. “We want to be a team that doesn’t give up
many shots and those we do, we want to keep as low quality shots. When they did get the opportunities tonight,
both goalies were there and both made one or two really good saves.”
Medicine Hat’s Clarke MacArthur (BUF) was one of the
quickest skaters on the ice and was a force to be reckoned with on just about
every shift. Chad Klassen, the
only undrafted member of the WHL club, played well in a largely defensive role
with linemates Kyle Chipchura (MTL) and Kris Versteeg (BOS).
Few players struggled on the night, but Coburn fought the
puck often and was caught coasting for the first period and a half. Coburn was one of three players who arrived
later in the day and could not partake in the morning skate with the rest of
the players. Dawes and Glass also made it to Red Deer after the morning
sessions that were held in Calgary.
The Russians obviously could not be satisfied with their
performance and while most of the visiting squad did very little to stand out,
there were a couple players who stepped up at times in the game, if even for
the briefest of moments. Forward Andrei
Stepanov showed that with his agility he could survive a game against a
team with a legion of large defensemen.
Nikolai Lemtyugov played with a physical edge, unfortunately it
was late in the game when the outcome was no longer in doubt, but it was clear
that he was not intimidated by players like Dion Phaneuf (CGY). Blueliner Roman Tesliuk (EDM), the
Kamloops Blazer rearguard that has joined the Russian squad on this last leg of
its tour, played well in a very limited capacity. His passing was sharp and as always, he could be seen and heard
directing traffic at all times for his team.
All in all, it was a disappointing showing by the Russians
in what became little more than a practice session for the WHL players. Russian coach Sergei Gersonsky admitted
after the game that he only expect three or four of this touring Russian squad
to be on the final World Junior team that represents his country, so one should
not read too much into this lopsided loss.
The main Russian camp gets started on December 10th in
Hockey fans can only hope that the sixth and final game in
the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge makes up for the forgettable fifth game. The series wraps up tonight in Lethbridge,
Alberta and can be seen nationally on Rogers Sports Net.
Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.