Kamloops Blazers forward Collin Shirley had a goal and three assists while team captain Brayden Point of the Moose Jaw Warriors had a goal and two helpers in Team WHL’s 7-3 victory in Game 1 of the CHL Canada Russia Series in Kelowna on Monday.
Team WHL led 6-0 after 40 minutes before Russia struck for three in the third to set a competitive tone heading into Game 2 of the series on Tuesday in Kamloops.
The unit of Point centering Kamloops Blazers teammates Collin Shirley and Deven Sideroff clicked immediately, connecting for three first period markers and another in the second.
“Anytime you can play with good players like that, things are going to work,” said Point after the win. “I thought we did a real good job of stripping pucks and creating turnovers down low. Our forecheck was effective.”
It took Point and company just 2:16 to get Team WHL on the scoresheet as Shirley assisted on defenceman Kale Clague’s (Brandon Wheat Kings) opening goal.
Clague wristed a seeing-eye shot from the point that made its way through some light traffic and past Maxim Tretiak in the Russian goal just 2:16 into action. Joe Hicketts (Victoria Royals) also gathered an assist as the WHL was off to a strong start.
After Jayce Hawrylyk (Brandon Wheat Kings) hit a goal post, Montreal Canadiens prospect Noah Juulsen (Everett Silvertips) extended the WHL lead with just over five minutes remaining in the first frame. Shirley and Point worked the puck down low, setting up Juulsen who had a clear path to the slot where he wristed a backhander past the blocker of Tretiak.
Team WHL led 2-0 after 20 minutes, outshooting their Russian opponents 13-7.
Though his 5-foot-8 frame wouldn’t suggest an imposing style, ‘Jumbo’ Joe Hicketts made his presence felt early in the second period, laying the body at one end before Point extended the WHL lead to three at the other. Hicketts inspired a Russian turnover with a big hit inside the WHL blueline as the puck went back in transition for Shirley to collect his third assist of the night as the Point goal spelled the end of the night for Maxim Tretiak.
Alexander Trushkov didn’t fare much better as his replacement in the moments that followed. Goals from Conner Bleackley (Red Deer Rebels), Shirley and Jansen Harkins (Prince George Cougars) extended the WHL lead to 6-0 after two.
Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips) faced just one shot in the final eight minutes of the second period after relieving Zach Sawchenko (Moose Jaw Warriors) who stopped all nine of the shots he faced in the opening 30 minutes.
Team Russia came alive early in the third as Kirill Tsulygin and Artur Lauta scored 1:18 apart.
Tsulygin managed to guide a shot through traffic on his third attempt from the point, beating a screened Hart in the WHL goal. Lauta finished on a cross-crease feed from linemate Andrey Svetlakov a shift later after the Russians outbattled Team WHL in the offensive zone.
Team Russia pulled to within three with 4:24 remaining in the third as Calgary Hitmen forward Radel Fazleev parked in the slot and was in the right spot at the right time for a puck to carom in off his body.
Team WHL would bounce back quickly though, damming up the growing Russian momentum with a powerplay goal from defenceman Dysin Mayo (Edmonton Oil Kings) under a minute later.
Shirley and Point had combined for seven points by time the final buzzer sounded on a 7-3 Team WHL victory to open the series, though Russia did show some late life with three goals in the third.
“You have to think they’ll come out tomorrow night the way they played us in the third after seeing some video,” Point noted. “We’ll have to come out with another strong start like we did tonight.”
Team WHL outshot Russia 29-18 in the win, taking a 3-0 series lead in points with the regulation victory.
Tuesday’s Game 2 of the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series can be seen live from Kamloops on Sportsnet at 10:00pm ET/7:00pm PT.
2015 CHL Canada Russia Series
Game 1 – Monday, November 9 at Kelowna, BC (Team WHL wins 7-3) Game Summary
Game 2 –Tuesday, November 10 at Kamloops, BC
Game 3 – Thursday,November 12 at Owen Sound, ON
Game 4 –Monday, November 16 at Windsor, ON
Game 5 – Tuesday, November 17 at Rouyn-Noranda, QC
Game 6 – Thursday, November 19 at Halifax, NS