Canada 3 @ Russia 2
An All-Star team of Canadian juniors defeated a similar group of Russian juniors 3-2 today in Game 1 of the four-game Canada-Russia Challenge. Three Lightning prospects played in the match, including new prospects Andrei Vasilevski – a first round pick of Tampa Bay in June – and recent free agent signee Artem Sergeev. Vasilevski allowed three goals – all in the second period – including a wrist shot by likely 2013 top-10 pick Sean Monahan. According to the TSN Radio broadcast, Vasilevski (pictured at the Lightning's prospect camp) came up with several big saves in the third period to keep Russia in the game at 3-1, then 3-2. Nail Yakupov, the top pick in the 2012 draft, scored on a 5-on-3 power play in the third period to cut Canada’s lead to one goal. The Oilers pick one-timed a shot from the circle off of a feed from Sergeev. Nesterov also saw power play time for Russia.
The game-winning goal was scored by Bruins prospect Dougie Hamilton, who’s shot from the point got by a screened Vasilevski.
Cody Nickolet, a WHL reporter, singled out Sergeev and Nesterov as having impressive games. He said Vasilevski was good, but “could have had a couple of those goals” and was outplayed by Canada’s Malcolm Subban (Bruins) in the game.
Brendan Ross of Dobber Prospects and The Hockey Writers said Vasilevski had an average showing and consistency remains an issue for the first goalie taken in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
The game was played in Yaroslavl, site of last year’s deadly airline crash that killed 44 players and coaches from Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL. Friday’s Game 2 will also be played in Yaroslavl before Games 3 and 4 are held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next week.
The series is being played as a tribute to the Lokomotiv club. It also marks the 40th anniversary of the famed Canada-Russia Summit Series of 1972. Lightning founder Phil Esposito, a member of Canada’s ’72 squad, is reportedly on the trip with Team Canada this year.
(Eric DuBose photo)
As uncertain as things have traditionally been for the Lightning between the pipes, the defenseman position may be even more unsettled at this point in the offseason. After cheating father time for much of the 2011-2012 season, age caught up to many of the Lightning's veteran defensemen in 2012-2013. Mattias Ohlund may never play another NHL game after the 35 year old's knee finally gave out after over 900 games of NHL service.
KHL Eastern Conference Finals (Russia):
Nikita Nesterov did not play in Game Five, as Omsk closed out top seed Chelyabinsk with a 1-0 shutout win. Ex-Lightning goaltender Karri Ramo made 30 saves for Avangard for the win. This marks the end of Nikita Nesterov's season. Omsk will go on to face Dynamo Moscow in the Gagarin Cup Finals.
MHL Western Conference Finals (Russia Jr.):
Nikita Gusev scored a pair of third period goals to lead CSKA Jr. to a 3-2, Game One, comeback victory. Nikita Kucherov again did not play in the match. Game Two is Saturday.
SM-liiga Semifinals (Finland):
(4)JYP 2 @ (6) Jokerit 1 (OT)
JYP Leads the Series 1-0
Riku Helenius, JYP, Win, 38/39, 0.87 GAA, .974 sv%
Playoff totals: 4 GP, 4-0-0, 0 SO, 1.45 GAA, .957 sv%
Regular season totals: 33 GP, 21-9-1, 7 SO, 1.64 GAA, .936 sv%
The remarkable march of Riku Helenius continues. The former first rounder stopped 38 of 39 shots to lead JYP to a 2-1 overtime Game One win over Jokerit. It took a Jani Tuppurainen goal at 9:05 of overtime to settle it. JYP remains unbeaten in the playoffs. Game Two is Thursday.
KHL Eastern Conference Finals (Russia):
(2)Omsk 3 @ (1)Chelyabinsk 1
Omsk Leads the Series 3-1
Nikita Nesterov, Chelyabinsk, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff totals (KHL): 3 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Regular Season totals (MHL): 41 GP, 11-20-31, +11, 66 PIM
Regular season totals (KHL): 10 GP, 0-0-0, +8, 4 PIM
Uh oh. Nikita Nesterov made his first playoff appearance since the first round and was even in 7:25 of ice time, but Chelyabinsk fell hard to Omsk 3-1. The Game Four win stakes Omsk to a 3-1 series lead. Ex-Lightning goaltender Karri Ramo stopped 25 of 26 shots in the victory for Omsk. Game Five is on Friday.