Category: North America (page 1 of 9)

Costa Rica: Land of Rainforests, Rivers, Volcanoes …. and Ice Hockey

That’s right…Ice Hockey…In Costa Rica!

Certainly known for special and amazing experiences, but not your typical hot bed for ice hockey, Costa Rica just quietly held its first ever international Ice Hockey tournament. This unlikely tournament was the long time dream of the ex-pat & Calgary native, Bruce Callow, who more than two decades ago brought the sport of hockey to Costa Rica.

“It was a great feeling to help bring this event to life. It was a mixture of a lot of emotions being both a player and an organizer.” said founder and tournament organizer Bruce Callow who recently celebrated the 20 year anniversary of this program.

With support from the NHLPA (NHL Players Association) Goals and Dreams Fund, Bruce was able to keep this program moving forward from its humble beginnings on synthetic ice to moving into the El Castillo Country Club where they now have a rink about half the size of a normal NHL rink.

El Castillo is now home to The Castillo Knights who have, against all odds, put together a solid program that fielded a tournament team their country could be proud of. The team was composed of founder Bruce Callow, captained by the formidable former OHLer Aurelio Cence, with players like the veteran Mike Mirtl, young speedster David Aviles, Robert Vinet, Anthony Callow, Jorge Castiglione, Mariano Finizio and backstopped by the talented and promising goaltender Franklin Ordenez.

Going forward, this tournament will be instrumental in continuing to move the program forward. To be able to be a part of it was something I will remember and cherish forever! In fact, the majority of the participants could agree that it was an incredibly unique opportunity to play hockey abroad and be a part of helping this young hockey program grow there. I think I speak for all of us when I say this tournament was the highlight of our recreational league “careers.” Teams from Calgary, Canada, Los Angeles, USA and the Falkland Islands came to participate in this thrilling inaugural tournament. Without the dedication and hospitality of the organizers this never could have happened.

The Tournament took place the weekend of November 18th-19th, 2017. Most of the teams arrived in Costa Rica a few days before the tournament to enjoy the exotic and popular vacation destination before turning their attention to the upcoming tournament. With 4 games in just two days they would not only have a difficult challenge, physically speaking, but would also have to adapt to the smaller ice surface, no glass along the boards and 3 vs 3 tournament format.

All in all the tournament was a huge success. In a flurry of activity, each team playing two games a day, all teams battled for every inch of ice and the games were quite close. Speak with any tournament organizer and they will tell you that when organizing a tournament with unknown teams from different locations, let alone different countries, it is a challenge to asses team strength and skill and achieve good parity among participating teams. This time, however, the hockey gods smiled upon us and we all agreed the parity was about as close as you can get for a first ever tournament of this nature.

“It was quite an exhausting experience and I am sure the next one will be easier to organize. Having the stands of the rink full of fans cheering for hockey was a surreal and unforgettable experience.” – Bruce Callow

Though all of the games were hotly contested, ultimately the Canadian Citizens from Calgary and Ruination from Los Angeles would face off in an all to familiar USA vs Canada  gold medal game. After a hard fought game that would see the lead change multiple times the Calgary Citizens would raise the first ever El Castillo Ice Hockey Tournament trophy after their well deserved 7-5 victory over our US team. I have to say, the trophy could could not have gone to a more classy team. Congratulations on making history boys!

Ultimately, there was a whole other side to this competition that far outweighed the simple concept of who would win and who would lose. (Although as athletes and competitors everyone certainly played their hardest with winning in mind.) It was about something bigger than ourselves or any one team. Being a part of growing the sport so far from home and helping this young program get to the next level was real reason we were all here.

What made this tournament so special for me, for us all, was that we all bought in to this idea and the camaraderie was unlike anything I have experienced in a tournament before. We all came away with new friends from other countries and that in itself speaks volumes for what took place here in Costa Rica.

At the end of the day the Castillo Knights were the big winners. Despite all odds and with limited resources they put together a team that competed above its level against teams significantly more experienced. They were the David to the visiting Goliaths and their heart and tenacity not only won over the fans, many watching live hockey for the first time in their lives, but earned the respect and admiration of us visitors. Additionally, the atmosphere in that club was incredible and contagious as it was easy to get caught up in the excitement and emotion watching the other games. If this first taste of Costa Rican Hockey is any indicator, this program has a bright future!

Hats off to what you have accomplished down in Costa Rica Bruce! We all hope to visit and compete again in Costa Rica in 2018. Thank you for keeping the dream alive all these years and letting us all play a part. That was one hell of a weekend we will not soon forget!


Sport minister exploring prospect of ice hockey in Jamaica

Olivia Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport prepares
to poke the puck away from Greame Townsend, National Hockey Coach (2nd left)
as it is being released by Donovan Tait, hockey player and coach (left). Looking on
in anticipation are: Dorothy McLeod, Director, California Cultural Alliance (3rd left);
founding members of the Jamaica Olympic Ice Hockey Federation Judith Smith (4th left)
and Lester Griffin (right). The Jamaica Olympic Ice Hockey Federation and representatives
from Tropical Ice Ventures of Canada paid a Courtesy Call on the Minister today
(December 1) at her offices in Kingston. 

By Jamaica Observer

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange says she is excited about the prospects of an ice hockey arena being established in Jamaica.

Grange met today with a group from the Jamaica Olympic Ice Hockey Federation and from the firm, Tropical Ice Ventures of Canada, which is a leader in refrigeration technology.

CEO of Tropical Ice Ventures, Jason Swales, disclosed that he had identified an investor in Canada who is interested in building an ice arena along with a hotel on the island.

“Teams are lining up to play ice hockey in Jamaica and there are hundreds of spectators from overseas who would visit Jamaica to attend ice hockey matches,” Swales is reported as saying in a release from the ministry.

Grange said that beach-front property in Trelawny is being eyed for the establishment of the ice rink, adding that her ministry intended to engage the Urban Development Corporation which owns the land.

Ice hockey delegation here this week

By Jamaica Observer

A delegation from the Jamaican Olympic Ice Hockey Federation (JOIHF) will be in the island this week for a series of meetings with government and sporting associations.

JOIHF, which was established in 2009 and became affiliated to the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) shortly thereafter, has been systematically building the sport amongst Jamiacan players in Canada and the United States, focusing on the Under-21 group.

So far, the team has played successfully in a number of tournaments in Toronto and in Nova Scotia. Most recently the Jamaica Under-21 team comprehensively beat a select Nova Scotia Under-21 team 5-1 in an excellent display of knowledge, skill and tactics. Several of the Jamaican players compete in the Toronto leagues on a regular basis. The Jamaican public will be able to see this match on local television this week at a time to be announced.

The main purpose of the visit of the delegation is to provide an update on the plans for the development of the sport amongst Jamaicans here and to initiate discussions regarding the building and maintenance of an ice rink here. having an ice rink is essential to the team playing in qualifying tournaments for the Olympic Games. At the moment, JOIHF is an affiliate member of the international federation because it does not have an ice rink in jamaica.

The delegation of seven includes the national coach for the team, Graeme Townsend (son of veteran journalist Errol Townsend). Graeme is the first Jamaican to play professionally in the National Hockey League (NHL) and spent over 10 years playing for a number of teams, including the Boston Bruins. Townsend runs an ice hockey school in Canada and is committed to developing local players who can make the grade playing ice hockey in the NHL.

In this regard he is prepared to host up to six local athletes each year who he can work on, teaching them skating skills and the rudiments of the game.

The delegation also includes the CEO of Tropical Ice Ventures, an ice rink manufacturig company that has designed and built ice rinks in hot climates like Dubai, Mexico and Brazil, to name a few.

The delegation has meetings scheduled with the minister of sport Olivia Grange, the JOA, universities and colleges, the local hockey fraternity, and tourism and hotel interests here.

Comtois, Harvey rise to the challenge as QMJHL takes series in shootout finale

By 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series

Moncton, NB – Now in its farewell season, the Moncton Coliseum has one more memory to include in its extensive 44-year history. One one of the most exciting nights in the 15-year history of the CIBC Canada Russia Series saw Russia score late to win Game 6 by a score of 2-1 before Team QMJHL captured the series on a shootout winner from Anaheim Ducks prospect Maxime Comtois (Victoriaville Tigres).

The Russian Game 6 victory came on a late goal from Comtois’ newly acquired teammate Vitalii Abramov (Victoriaville Tigres) as the Russians tied the series at nine points apiece.

The series would be settled in a shootout, one where Team QMJHL goaltender Samuel Harvey (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies) emerged as the hero. Harvey stopped all five shooters he faced, turning away Mikhail Maltsev to seal the deal and give the Canadian Hockey League its third straight series victory behind Comtois’ lone shootout marker.

“I gotta be honest, it’s my go-to move,” said Comtois with a smile. “I saw our two guys go first before me and watched the goalie all the way and found a weakness between the pads. I just kept it simple and it worked out.

“We knew when we lost the game in regulation we deserved the series,” Comtois added. “We played so hard, we played with structure and Harvey played two awesome games for us.”

Harvey’s 31 saves gave Team QMJHL a chance to win Game 6 and his five stops in the shootout paved the way to a series victory.

“We lost the game but we came back in the shootout and we’re very happy now,” he said. “Comtois came through with a huge goal and its just a great feeling to win this.”

Harvey was rewarded for his fine play in Tuesday’s Game 5, getting the call from head coach Dominique Ducharme (Drummondville Voltigeurs) once again.

For the first time in the series however, Russia would get on the board first as leading scorer Alexey Polodyan stretched his point streak to five games. The speedy winger orchestrated a give-and-go with linemate Andrey Altybarmakyan, wiring a shot over the shoulder of Harvey from the right circle at 8:16.

After Joe Veleno (Saint John Sea Dogs) had what looked to be the tying goal pulled off the goal line by Russian defenceman Daniil Kurashov, Team QMJHL drew even at 10:20 as Philadelphia Flyers prospect Pascal Laberge (Victoriaville Tigres) tipped a Jocktan Chainey (Halifax Mooseheads) point shot past Alexey Melnichuk.

Team QMJHL managed to survive a late Russian power play to close out the first period as big saves from Harvey off Maxim Tsyplakov and German Rubtsov (Acadie-Bathurst Titan) kept the game tied at one.

The second period was all about the goaltenders as Harvey and Melnichuk went save-for-save to keep the score tied at one through 40 minutes with Russia outshooting Team QMJHL 18-17.

Harvey’s second period was highlighted by a pair of saves off defending QMJHL scoring champion Abramov, providing a big glove denial of the Columbus Blue Jackets prospect inside the final five minutes of the frame.

The hero of the night, Comtois elevated his play in the third period, serving as a catalyst for a pair of Shawn Boudrias (Gatineau Olympiques) scoring chances that were denied by Melnichuk.

Harvey managed to keep the game tied with a save off Artyom Manukyan alone in the slot with five minutes remaining, but Russia would prevail before time ran out as Rubtsov and Abramov capitalized on a 2-on-1 rush.

After Rubtsov blocked a shot at the defensive blue line, the two were off to the races as Abramov slipped a rebound under the pad of Harvey. The puck snuck over the goal line at 17:03, bringing a hush to the 6,253 in attendance at the Moncton Coliseum.

Russia would ride out the remaining three minutes of regulation, out shooting the QMJHL 33-24 on the night to hold on for a big 2-1 victory and force a series determining shootout.

With Team QMJHL shooting first, Melnichuk and Harvey both turned away the first two opponents they faced before Comtois managed to snap a hard shot through the legs of the Russian goaltender. Harvey proceeded to stop Manukyan, Altybarmakyan and Maltsev to give the CHL a 10-9 series win in points.

“We had to play for the series in the shootout and we got it done,” said head coach Ducharme post game. “Overall, I think our guys deserved this.”

After 15 years of the CIBC Canada Russia Series the CHL boasts an overall record of 61-22-1-6, with the QMJHL playing to a mark of 17-10-3. Russia holds an overall record of 29-58-0-3.

The CHL has now won the CIBC Canada Russia Series 12 times in the event’s 15-year history.

Harvey the difference as Team QMJHL triumphs in Charlottetown

By 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series

Charlottetown, PEI – Russia came out firing early but Team QMJHL finished strong, outlasting their opponent in a 3-1 victory in Game 5 of the CIBC Canada Russia Series.

Samuel Harvey (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies) turned in a 25 save performance, denying several high quality Russian scoring opportunities as the CHL took a 9-6 lead in points entering Thursday’s series finale in Moncton.

“He had a strong game for sure and made some key saves at the right moments,” Team QMJHL head coach Dominique Ducharme (Drummondville Voltigeurs) said of Harvey, who became the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies all-time goaltending wins leader last week. “We need to be good at every position and we were certainly good in net tonight. He stood out for sure.”

Team Russia came with intensity in the early moments of Game 5, forcing Harvey into some big saves in order to keep his team in the game.

After Team QMJHL failed to record a shot on goal in the opening nine minutes of action, their first quality chance went into the net as Shawn Boudrias (Gatineau Olympiques), a former Islander, brought the Charlottetown faithful to their feet.

QMJHL captain Peter Abbandonato (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies) won an offensive zone draw as Boudrias carved a path to the net, snapping a quick shot over the shoulder of Alexey Melnichuk at 12:31.

The Russians responded under three minutes later as Chicago Blackhawks prospect Andrey Altybarmakyan scored his third of the series. Speedy linemate Alexey Polodyan forced a turnover at the Russian blue line, carrying the puck up ice to force a rebound off the pad of Harvey that found its way straight onto the stick of an oncoming Altybarmakyan who tied the score at one.

Russia carried the play, outshooting the QMJHL 11-6 in the first frame.

Harvey’s fine play carried over into the second stanza as the 19-year-old provided a breakaway save off Damir Rakhimullin and turned away Maxim Rasseykin on a one-timer in the slot moments later.

Team QMJHL managed to hold Russia’s power play at bay, being outshot 8-5 in the second for a two-period total of 19-11.

Ottawa Senators prospect Drake Batherson (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles) put Team QMJHL in the lead for good 4:11 into the third period, striking for the team’s second power play marker of the night. 2018 NHL Draft prospect Joe Veleno (Saint John Sea Dogs) moved a puck down low to Anaheim Ducks draftee Maxime Comtois (Victoriaville Tigres) who made a power move to the net, creating an opportunity in the slot as Batherson cleaned up a loose puck in the crease.

The grind of five games in three different provinces over the past week seemed to catch up with the Russians in the third period as they were limited to seven shots in the final 20 minutes but still managed to outshoot the QMJHL 26-24 on the night.

Nicolas Guay (Drummondville Voltigeurs) would add an unassisted empty net goal with 27 seconds remaining to secure a 3-1 victory for Team QMJHL, giving them four straight wins against Russia dating back to 2015.

Team QMJHL went 2-for-3 on the man advantage while holding Russia to an 0-for-5 mark. The Russians are now 1-for-13 on the power play throughout the series.

Team QMJHL featured a roster loaded with young talent including four 2000-born standouts in Joe Veleno (Saint John Sea Dogs), Noah Dobson (Acadie-Bathurst Titan) and the Halifax Mooseheads duo of forward Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Jared McIsaac. All four players won gold medals with Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament this past summer and saw plenty of ice in Tuesday’s victory.

“I really liked the way our young guys performed,” Ducharme added post-game. “You could see at the beginning we needed to make an adjustment but we got better and better and I really liked our third period.

“We managed the game well, we were good on the power play and we didn’t give them much late in the game.”

Up 9-6 in points, a QMJHL win on Thursday in Moncton would secure a third straight series victory for the Canadian Hockey League.

Thursday’s Game 6 will be the final CIBC Canada Russia Series matchup held at the Moncton Coliseum that will give way to a brand new facility set to open in September 2018.

Catch the series finale Thursday on Sportsnet East, Ontario and Pacific when the puck drops at 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT.

Suzuki and Timmins connect as Team OHL strikes back in Sudbury

By 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series

Sudbury, ON – Vegas Golden Knights prospect Nick Suzuki (Owen Sound Attack) and Colorado Avalanche second rounder Conor Timmins (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) both had three points, leading Team OHL to a 4-2 victory in Game 4 of the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series in Sudbury.

Team OHL rebounded from a 5-2 loss in Game 3 as a pair of quick third period goals broke open a 2-2 tie. Suzuki scored his second of the night for the game winner 4:09 into the final frame.

“We didn’t want to come here and go down 0-2 against the Russians, so it was good to get the job done tonight,” said Suzuki post-game. “I thought the whole team worked really hard and we got the result we wanted.”

Typically Western Conference foes, Suzuki and Timmins connected three different times in the win.

“When you’re on a power play with a guy like Suzuki and others like Tippett, Katchouk and Gadjovich, you just want to move the puck and let them do their thing,” said Timmins of his approach. “That worked out nicely for us tonight.”

Team OHL head coach Trevor Letowski (Windsor Spitfires) came away impressed with his club’s effort, citing better execution in the win as the series heads east knotted 6-6 in points.

“I really liked our compete level again,” Letowski noted. “Our power play is really dangerous and it played a big factor in the game and I thought DiPietro was very solid in net and made some good saves when he had to.

“Overall our guys dug in and we really wanted to get that one,” Letowski added. “Obviously we weren’t happy with the loss in Owen Sound. The boys are proud of being here and representing the league and they wanted to have a good showing. I thought we did that tonight.”

The Owen Sound tandem of Gadjovich and Suzuki went to work offensively early on Team OHL’s first power play of the night at 3:12 of the first. The former provided a screen in the slot while the latter ripped a wrister over the shoulder of Vladislav Sukhachev in the Russian crease to put Team OHL up 1-0.

After being outshot 6-1 in the opening five minutes of action, Russia responded at 6:36 as Chicago Blackhawks prospect Andrey Altybarmakyan forged a lane to the net and beat DiPietro on a forehand move off the rush.

Sukhachev provided some timely saves in the latter half of the first period, stopping Gadjovich on a backhand opportunity before getting a little help from his post as Jonathan Ang (Peterborough Petes) struck iron inside the final minute.

Both goaltenders provided big glove saves in the opening shifts of the second as both Sukhachev and DiPietro kept the score knotted at one before a local fan favourite used his big shot to put Russia in the lead.

After a pair of failed OHL clearing attempts, Sudbury Wolves star Dmitry Sokolov drifted through the slot and took a pass from Artyom Manukyan to beat DiPietro under the crossbar at 8:29.

Team OHL re-established the tie just over three minutes later as the power play struck again. After being set up by Timmins earlier in the game, Suzuki returned the favour, putting the puck on a tee for the Colorado Avalanche prospect who blasted home a slapshot at 11:53.

Team OHL outshot Russia 14-7 in the second for a two-period total of 27-19 as the game entered the third period in a 2-2 tie.

The OHL carried its momentum from a strong second over into the third as Suzuki picked up his second goal and third point of the night at 4:09.

Suzuki was sprung in alone on an outlet pass from Timmins, dekeing to the forehand before sliding a low shot through the legs of Sukhachev to give Team OHL a 3-2 edge. Owen Sound Attack teammate Sean Durzi also picked up an assist on the go-ahead goal.

Big 17-year-old blueliner Kevin Bahl (Ottawa 67’s) gave Team OHL some much-needed insurance just 31 seconds later. Bahl, who’s scored just once in 78 career OHL regular season contests, picked up his first of the 2017-18 season on a wrister through traffic. With Gadjovich providing another valuable screen out front, Bahl picked a corner and put Team OHL up 4-2 with roughly 15 minutes to go.

DiPietro stood his ground in the late going, but Team OHL tightened things up and held the Russians to just six shots on goal in the final frame to take a 4-2 victory.

The OHL outshot Russia 33-25 and went 2-for-6 on the power play while limiting their opponents to just one power play opportunity.

Team OHL improves to an all-time record of 24-5-1 in the CIBC Canada Russia Series while Russia drops to 1-13-0-1 all-time in Game 4 of the series.

The series shifts to Charlottetown, PEI on Tuesday night as Team QMJHL awaits Russia for Game 5. The action gets underway at 7:00pm ET/8:00AT on Sportsnet East, Ontario and Pacific.

Falklands ice hockey team in international tournament in Costa Rica

By Merco Press South Atlantic News Agency

Costa Rica will be hosting the first Castillo International Ice Hockey Tournament with the participation of a home team, and three international sides, including one form the Falkland Islands. The competition is scheduled to take place at the Castillo Country Club in San Rafael de Heredia, on 18/19 November.

 “The idea cropped up during a trip five years ago to the Falkland Islands, in 2012, where I met representatives of local teams. Later on I also made ice hockey friends with people from Calgary and Los Angeles, and finally we managed to organize the competition and a schedule”, according to Bruce Callow, organizer of the event and founder of the Costa Rica Castillo Knights team.

The overseas teams are the Stanley All-Stars from the Falklands, Canadian Citizens and Ruination from LA. The competition will be played at the Senior category and includes some former professionals such as goalie Jason Wood from UK.

“At the end of the day, this first ice hockey tournament in Central America is geared to make the sport grow, to attract young people of all ages, and this kind of events will help promote the ice hockey game in Costa Rica”, adds Callow. “I can assure you that once you’ve tried hockey and get the knack of it, you’ll forget about soccer”.

Callow advanced that for next year’s edition there has also been strong interest from teams in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Argentina, which are planning to participate.

Likewise he also revealed that ice hockey has been played in Costa Rica for twenty years and the Castillo Country Club offers its members the chance of learning to play the game. The ice ring was only recently remodeled and can hold some fifty skiers at the time.

According to the schedule Stanley All Stars play hosts Castillo Knights on the morning of Saturday 18th November, and in the afternoon Canadian Citizens. On Sunday morning Falklands play Ruination from Los Angeles, and in the afternoon, at 14:00 hours and 16:00 hours, the bronze and gold medals will be disputed.

Falklands will be represented by Stanley-All Stars

Falklands will be represented by Stanley-All Stars

Big saves, timely scoring lead Russia to 5-2 victory in Owen Sound


Owen Sound, ON – Alexey Melnichuk made 35 saves and Russia scored five times on 18 shots to defeat Team OHL 5-2 in Owen Sound and take a 6-3 (points) lead in the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series.

Artyom Manukyan and Alexey Polodyan both scored twice while OHL talent played a large part in the Russian victory as Dmitri Samorukov (Guelph Storm), Alexey Lipanov (Barrie Colts) and Dmitry Sokolov (Sudbury Wolves) all found the scoresheet.

“Altogether I thought we played pretty well,” said three-year Team OHL veteran Will Bitten (Hamilton Bulldogs). “We had a lot of shots and scoring opportunities but their goaltender was outstanding.

“They have a good team over there and they came out hard tonight,” he continued. “We have to have a short memory and come ready to play on Monday in Sudbury.”

Team OHL captain Taylor Raddysh (Erie Otters) opened the scoring, converting on a penalty shot at the CIBC Canada Russia Series for the second straight year. The big winger beat Melnichuk inside the far post on a quick release just 36 seconds into action.

The Russians didn’t need long to draw even though as new recruit Dmitri Samorukov (Guelph Storm) blasted a point shot past his OHL counterpart Dylan Wells (Peterborough Petes) in the Team OHL crease.  The tying goal came off a Russian offensive zone faceoff win as the game was knotted at one at 7:31.

After a trio of high quality Melnichuk saves off Bitten and Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting), the Russians climbed ahead on the power play, ending an 0-for-14 slide on the man advantage dating back to 2015.

Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Alexey Lipanov (Barrie Colts) blazed down the right wing, opening up a lane for an oncoming Artyom Manukyan speeding down the middle for an open net finish at 16:24.

Team OHL outshot Russia 16-7 but trailed 2-1 after 20 minutes.

The two sides traded quick goals in the opening half of the second period as Florida Panthers prospect Adam Mascherin (Kitchener Rangers) finished off a pretty power play passing sequence in the goalmouth. Buffalo Sabres draftee Cliff Pu found a waiting Mascherin 7:59 into the frame as he drew Team OHL even at two.

Russia regained the lead less than two minutes later though as Manukyan, who set a record with 105 points in Russia’s top Junior Circuit last season, found his second of the night. Minnesota Wild prospect Dmitry Sokolov (Sudbury Wolves) took an outlet pass from Lipanov on a quick transition play after Team OHL failed to enter the offensive zone, dishing to an open Manukyan who made it 3-2 at 9:43 of the second.

Alexey Polodyan took out an insurance policy on the Russian lead before the second expired, scoring a highlight reel goal as he danced around two OHL defenders to beat Wells under the arm at 16:15.

Russia led 4-2 after two periods despite being outshot 28-14.

Though Team OHL controlled the pace in the third, their offensive efforts were thwarted by the fine play of Melnichuk as Polodyan would eventually find his second of the night into an empty net with 52 seconds remaining.

Team OHL outshot Russia 37-18 on the night, but the scoreboard told another story in a 5-2 loss.

“I don’t think the score was indicative of how things went out there tonight,” said Owen Sound Attack fan favourite Markus Phillips who had a chance to play in front of a sold out Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. “It was a great atmosphere and I thought we did a lot of good things but our execution just wasn’t there.”

Russia improves to 5-4-0-0 against the OHL over the past five years at the CIBC Canada Russia Series.

Nine OHL players will remain in the lineup on Monday night when series shifts to Sudbury for Game 4.

Catch Monday’s action on Sportsnet Ontario, East and Pacific when the puck drops at 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT.

Russians battle back for 4-3 win in Swift Current

By 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series

Swift Current, SK – New Jersey Devils prospect Mikhail Maltsev’s second of the night with 7:54 left in the third period completed the comeback as Russia battled back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat Team WHL 4-3 in Game 2 of the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series.

Maltsev’s shorthanded game winner rounded out a three-goal third period for the Russians as the series transitions to the Ontario Hockey League on Thursday night in Owen Sound tied 3-3 in points.

Russia scored three times on eight third period shots, battling back to silence a sold out Credit Union iPlex in Swift Current as Winnipeg Jets prospect Mikhail Berdin made some timely saves to close out the win.

“They played us a lot harder tonight and we expected that,” said Team WHL’s Sam Steel (Regina Pats). “We had a couple of bad bounces, a couple of turnovers and they capitalized on those. They got a good performance in net and we didn’t capitalize the way we did last night.”

New York Islanders draft selection David Quenneville (Medicine Hat Tigers) scored twice in the loss while Calgary Flames pick Dillon Dube (Kelowna Rockets) had a goal and two assists and Steel registered three helpers.

“It seemed like every shift we got a little bit more comfortable, started making more and more plays,” Steel noted of his line alongside Dube and Tyler Steenbergen (Swift Current Broncos). “You don’t get a chance to play with guys like that too often, so it was a lot of fun.”

After registering just 20 shots on Monday the Russians came out firing in Game 2, outshooting Team WHL 17-6 in the opening frame as Edmonton Oilers prospect Stuart Skinner (Lethbridge Hurricanes) was big when called upon.

Though outshot, the WHL took out the game’s first lead on the power play just 1:27 into action as Dube finished on his own rebound from close quarters with assists from Steel and Jake Bean (Calgary Hitmen).

Team WHL passed a big test in the opening frame, killing off a five-minute major charged to Tanner Kaspick (Brandon Wheat Kings) to enter the second period up 1-0.

After Skinner stopped Russian defenceman Artyom Minulin (Swift Current Broncos) on an early second period odd-man rush the WHL power play went back to work as Quenneville increased the lead to 2-0. Quenneville finished off a Dube cross-crease feed at 6:17, beating a sprawling Berdin across the crease.

Quenneville struck again on the power play just over two minutes later at 8:33, giving Team WHL three power play goals in a single game for the first time since 2011. Dube and Steel picked up assists once again as Team WHL was in full control up 3-0 midway through the contest.

Russia caught a break later in the second after Berdin stopped Kole Lind (Kelowna Rockets) on a penalty shot attempt.

Mikhail Maltsev scored Russia’s first goal of the series with 3:38 left on the clock, keeping a puck in at the offensive blue line before working with Alexey Polodyan and Maxim Tsyplakov to wrist a shot past Skinner from the high slot.

Team WHL led 3-1 after two periods, outshooting Russia 17-8 in the second frame.

The opportunistic Russians came on strong early in the third period as big defenceman Artyom Maltsev couldn’t beat Skinner on his first attempt from the right faceoff circle, but followed up on his own rebound at 6:28 to cut the WHL lead to 3-2.

Chicago Blackhawks third round selection Andrey Altybarmakyan took advantage of a Team WHL miscue to knot the score at three midway through the third. His unassisted goal saw him pick off an errant WHL outlet pass and out-wait a sprawling Skinner on the forehand.

Mikhail Maltsev completed the comeback, taking advantage of a fortunate bounce off the boards that saw a loose puck bounce back out into the slot where he quickly sent a release past Skinner from the high slot at 12:06.

Team WHL pulled Skinner in the game’s final two minutes but couldn’t solve Berdin, settling for split decisions against Russia to open the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series.

Russia took the shooting column 33-32, marking the first time they’ve outshot Team WHL in the event since November 15th, 2012. Team WHL finished the night 3-for-6 on the power play and finished 57% (34-of-60) in the faceoff circle.

Dillon Dube (Kelowna Rockets) led the WHL in series scoring with five points (2-3–5) over two games. He becomes just the second WHL player in event history to register five points in a series, joining Collin Shirley (Kamloops Blazers) who did so in 2015.

The Western Hockey League wraps up the series with an all-time record of 20-7-1-2, sending the series to Owen Sound for Game 3 on Thursday against Team OHL.

Thursday’s matchup can be seen on Sportsnet Ontario, East and Pacific when the puck drops at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre at 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT.

Women’s Hockey Rivals Prepare for the Olympics by Playing Each Other — Again and Again


Three days after the United States women’s hockey team lost to Canada, 5-1, in an exhibition game here on Oct. 25, USA Hockey unexpectedly added Cayla Barnes, an 18-year-old freshman at Boston College, to its roster.

The move may just be insurance for the coming Four Nations Cup, which begins Tuesday outside Tampa, Fla., and is the last major women’s hockey tournament before the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Or inserting Barnes, a prodigious defender who has won three consecutive under-18 world championships, into the lineup could be a shrewd psychological and tactical ploy.

After all, Barnes is one of the few players on the American team who is somewhat unknown to Canada.

Her addition is one example of the chess-like maneuvering within the most intense rivalry in women’s hockey. By mid-December, the two teams will have played up to eight games against each other — including one on Wednesday — in the span of two months, plotting their final moves of a four-year buildup to an expected meeting in the gold medal game in Gangneung, South Korea, on Feb. 22.

“I use the analogy of going into it like a test,” forward Sarah Nurse of Canada said. “The better prepared you are when it comes down to that time in February when we play these guys again, we want to know what they’re going to throw at us. We don’t want any surprises. We want to be 100 percent prepared.”

Since women’s hockey became an Olympic event in 1998, the United States and Canada have dominated the sport. They have combined to win all five gold medals and have met in all but one Olympic final (Sweden defeated the United States in the semifinals in 2006). Canada has defeated the United States in the last two finals. The teams have met in all 18 world championship finals, with the United States winning seven of the last eight.

The fact that no other national teams have consistently reached the North Americans’ level of excellence has created an unusual situation in which the United States and Canada always have an eye toward one-upping each other.

The Americans have not won an Olympic gold medal since 1998, further motivating them to find an edge. Forward Hilary Knight, who took home silver medals in 2010 and 2014, has said that since those crushing losses, she wakes up every morning thinking about revenge against Canada.

Both sides expect their opponents to have an encyclopedic knowledge of their tendencies come the Olympics. In 2014, Canada won, 3-2, in overtime of what many consider to be the greatest women’s hockey game ever played.

Ice Hockey – Women’s Gold Medal Game – Canada v USA | Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

With little discrepancy in talent between the teams, the Americans are not so much seeking to find some undiscovered weakness in Canada’s armor during the pre-Olympic series, but rather to prove that they can dictate the pace of play. They also must hone their chemistry and accountability to carry them through the tense sequences that will most likely decide another gold medal match.

“I remember in 2010, always trying to play catch-up,” Knight said. “In 2014, we were the better team and then we had sort of mental lapses. What’s different now than in years past, this team really looks internally for motivation.”

Since Canada’s Marie-Philip Poulin scored the golden goal in Sochi four years ago, fans have eagerly awaited a rematch of a game that drew almost five million viewers on NBC.

In North America, the audience for women’s hockey has grown with the creation of the National Women’s Hockey League in 2015 and the expansion of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Last March, the American players garnered national news media attention when they won a battle for equitable support from USA Hockey, their governing body.

With a greater platform, the American team changed their pre-Olympic plans, focusing only on exhibitions with Canada. In past cycles, the national team also played college squads. But not only does Canada provide the best competition, it is also the top box-office draw.

The game here on Oct. 25 was sold out, with an announced crowd of 6,298 at Boston University’s Agganis Arena. Up to five of the remaining games between the rivals will be played in N.H.L. arenas.

“From a competition standpoint, I’d rather play Canada every single night, maybe Finland,” Knight said. “But when all is said and done and we’re looking from a women’s hockey exposure standpoint, we should be playing other teams. But I think that’s a little bit later down on in the future.”

She added that she would like to see stronger initiatives from the International Ice Hockey Federation to develop women’s hockey in more countries.

For now, even when they aren’t playing Canada, the Americans try to create the best facsimile, scrimmaging against college-age men’s teams in Tampa, where the national team has been based since September. It is a tactic used by the Canadians since 2002; this year, they will play about three games per week against 18-and-under teams in Alberta.

Jocelyne Larocque, a 2014 gold medalist, said those events had also helped grow women’s hockey throughout the province, as the games fill smaller rinks with hundreds of fans.

The American forward Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson said playing against men’s teams had been beneficial because the scrimmages replicate Canada’s speed and strength. But they leave something to be desired in terms of gravitas.

It’s good to get that competition,” Lamoureux-Davidson said, “but it’s not the same playing them.”

For the United States women’s hockey team, “them” can only mean one thing.

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