CANADA FALLS IN SHOOTOUT IN HLINKA OPENER
JASON LA ROSE
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – Akil Thomas (Toronto, Ont./Niagara, OHL) scored early in the third period to force overtime, but Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to Russia to open the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup on Monday.
Calen Addison (Brandon, Man./Lethbridge, WHL) set up all three goals in regulation for the Canadians, who erased one-goal deficits in the second and third periods to earn a single point.
In the shootout, Joe Veleno (Kirkland, Que./Saint John, QMJHL) made good on his opportunity, the third shot for Canada, showing off his quick hands in close to beat goaltender Amir Miftakhov.
Ruslan Iskhakov responded for Russia with the game on the line, and beat netminder Alexis Gravel (St-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Que./Halifax, QMJHL) a second time to put the pressure back on Veleno. The Canadian captain tried to go five-hole, but Miftakhov kept the puck out to clinch the victory.
Canada needed less than six minutes of the first period to open the scoring; on the power play, Barrett Hayton (Peterborough, Ont./Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) parked himself at the side of the net and banged in the rebound of a Addison shot.
The Russians answered midway through the opening frame when Nikita Rtishchev snapped a quick shot past the glove of Gravel, and took their first lead early in the second period off the stick of Dmitriy Zavgorodniy, who kept on a two-on-one.
Jack McBain (Toronto, Ont./Toronto Jr. Canadiens, OJHL) brought the Canadians even with less than five minutes to go in the second, taking a pass from Addison in the slot and beating Miftakhov to send the game to the intermission tied 2-2.
Russia took a 3-2 lead just 1:18 into the third period when Zavgorodniy beat Gravel off a scramble in front, but Thomas whipped a wrist shot past Miftakhov from the high slot just 3:23 later to tie the game again and eventually send the game to an extra period.
Addison had a chance to win it for Canada in overtime when he snuck in behind the Russian defence and was pulled down, but was denied by the glove of Miftakhov on a penalty shot.
Canada gets right back to action Tuesday, facing off against Finland (9:30 a.m. ET/6:30 a.m. PT).