Friday, November 09, 2012

CHL Super Series: Russia ends OHL dominance with two third period goals

Heading into the their third game of the 2012 SUBWAY Super Series, in just four nights, Team Russia looked to be in for a long evening. Not only were they playing on back-to-back nights, following a rather lengthy bus trip from Val d’Or, but they were taking on the OHL All-Stars. A side in which they had lost to on eighteen consecutive occasions, dating back to the original Canada-Russia Challenge in 2003.

While the Russians appeared as though they were skating with twenty pound weights around their ankles, for much of the night, the hockey god's decided to take pity on this weary bunch. Despite mustering all of nine shots through the opening forty minutes of play, they made the most of their eight third period shots, scoring twice in just under thirty seconds, to pull off the stunning 2-1 upset.

Starting netminder Malcolm Subban wasn't busy during his thirty minutes of action, facing only seven shots, but the Boston Bruins prospect was perfect on the night and exuded nothing but confidence from the goal mouth out. That all changed when they decided to swap him out for Owen Sound starter Jordan Binnington.

Though he entered the game with a 1-0 lead, courtesy of Tyler Graovac's shorthanded marker in period two, and made a big stop off Nail Yakupov upon entering the game, the youngster looked nowhere near as sharp or composed as Subban. It looked as though it would matter little but unfortunately, it would prove to be a decision that would come back to haunt head coach Steve Spott.

Anton Shenfeld would finally break the shutout bid, scoring on a magnificent individual effort, to get the visitors back on level terms, with just over seven minutes to play. Shenfeld cut through the Team OHL defence, before ripping a laser behind a stunned Binnington, toeven things at one apiece. Russia wasted little time in finding a go-ahead goal, as Maxim Shalunov fired home his second of the tournament...all of twenty-four seconds later.

It was a shot Binnington would love to have back and one that ultimately allowed the Russian's to finally get that elusive first victory over the OHL All-Stars. Despite his teammates best efforts in the closing minutes, they were unable to get another puck behind backup netminder Igor Ustinski. The young puckstopper was helped along the way, with as courageous a shot block as one would ever see, as Alexander Khokhlachev put his face in front of a Cody Ceci blast, to help secure the lead

It was far from a masterpiece and easily the worst game of the tournament but one that Team Russia would tell you was long overdue.

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