Tuesday, November 13, 2012

CHL Super Series: OHL stars ruin Yakupov's homecoming

All the hype heading into the fourth game of the 2012 SUBWAY Super Series was surrounding the return of Edmonton Oilers prospect Nail Yakupov, to his old stomping grounds. While the former Sarnia Sting standout manged to the light the lamp for Team Russia on Monday night, it was the OHL All Stars who would get the last laugh, evening the series at two, with a 2-1 victory.

The OHL were given an early opportunity on the man advantage, as both Mikhail Naumenkov and Maxim Shalunov were penalized inside the opening two minutes of play, handing the homeside a two man advantage. Despite having the early advantage, they were unable to get one behind Team Russia starter Andrei Vasilevski, who robbed Anthony Camara, to keep it scoreless.

Having blown a glorious opportunity to jump in front of the visiting Russians, the OHL stars continued to press and were rewarded with the games opening marker. After starting the play with a lovely stretch pass from deep in his own end, Niagara IceDogs centre Ryan Strome hustled up ice and was handed an uncontested blast from the slot, to make it 1-0 OHL.

Nothing would change in the scoreboard until the midway point of period three, as both sides kept scoring chances to a minimum. Frankie Corrad would extend the OHL's lead, pouncing on a juicy rebound to make a 2-0, after Russia had just finished killing off their sixth penalty of the night. Vasilevski stopped Dougie Hamilton's point shot in the dying seconds of the man advantage but couldn't control the rebound, leaving Corrad staring at a yawning cage.

After carrying the play for much of the third, the OHL All Stars saw their lead trimmed in half, in the final minute of play. Having pulled Vasilevski for an extra attacker, the Russians would finally find their way onto the scoreboard, courtesy of Mr. Yakupov. The former first overall selection, buried a brilliant no-look feed from Maxim Shalunov, to get the Russians close but the late comeback would fall short.

With the series now deadlocked at two games a piece, the Russians will take their traveling road show to the West Coast, as they prepare for a two game showdown against the very best from the Western Hockey League, starting on Wednesday night in Vancouver. They will closeout the 2012 SUBWAY series in Victoria on Thursday evening, making it another three games in four nights for Team Russia.

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