Russia 2 @ Team OHL 1
D Nikita Nesterov , RUS: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM
Series totals: 3 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
D Artem Sergeev , RUS: Did not play
Series totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, +2, 0 PIM
G Andrei Vasilevskiy , RUS: Did not play
Series totals: 1-1-0, 3.50 GAA, 58/65 (.892 SV%)
D Slater Koekkoek , OHL: 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM (holding)
Series totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM
Playing their third game in four nights and with much of the same roster from last night's 5-2 loss in Val d'Or to the QMJHL squad, Russia found a way to dig deep late in the game and pull off a gritty comeback win, its first ever win over the OHL in 19 total series matches, by scoring two goals in 24 seconds with under ten minutes remaining Thursday night in Guelph.
With Andrei Vasilevskiy in need of rest after starting the first two games, it was Igor Ustinskiy who got the start and, with a team that looked on the ropes though much of the first two periods of play, earned some honors by stopping all but one of the 24 shots he faced. Boston's Malcolm Subban, selected in the first round of the 2012 draft just like Vasilevskiy, started in net for the OHL but was pulled in favor of Jordan Binnington (Blues) after seeing little action--just seven shots--in what amounted to a little more than the first half of the game. It was Binnington who allowed the late back-to-back goals to Anton Shenfeld and Blackhawks 2011 4th rounder Maxim Shulanov for Russia.
With Sergeev scratched, that left Nesterov and Koekkoek as the only Lightning prospects in action in tonight's game. Nesterov was on the ice helping man the power play for Russia when Tyler Graovac scored Canada's lone goal of the game short-handed, but was steady on the Russian back end and seemed right at home in a game that was characterized by its physicality and board play. Koekkoek flashed his two-way ability on multiple occasions tonight, even joining the rush and, during prolonged stretches of offensive zone time, driving the net or pinching deep. However, he was also on the ice, as was his defensive partner Ryan Murphy (Hurricanes), for both Russian goals at the tail end of the game which left the OHL team and the roughly 5,000-strong home crowd stunned.
Koekkoek was caught out out of position when Shenfeld pulled a subtle outside-in deke to move in between the two Canadian defenders and snapped a shot untouched from the mid-slot that sped past Binnington's right blocker shoulder and tucked in under or off the crossbar. On the second Russian goal, Shalunov sped away from Murphy just outside the Russian blueline to create a 2-on-1 that Koekkoek defended properly by taking away the pass and giving his goaltender an opportunity to make the save. Binnington didn't, letting Shalunov's ice-level wrister beat him five-hole as he dropped into the butterfly.
The series will continue when both teams meet again in Sarnia on Monday night.