Canada/Russia Challenge Game Day: 8-9-12

Canada 3 @ Russia 2

D Nikita Nesterov, RUS: 0-0-0, 0 PIM
D Artem Sergeev, RUS: 0-1-1, 0 PIM
G Andrei Vasilevski, RUS: Loss, 25 saves on 28 shots

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)