BOISBRIAND, Quebec – Talk about a statement game.
Led by a goal and assist from Mikhail Grigorenko, Nail Yakupov, Maxim Shalunov and Valentin Zykov, Team Russia trounced the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League All-Stars 6-2 in Game 1 of the Subway Super Series in front of a disappointed crowd of 3,173 at the Centre Excellence Rousseau on Monday night.
The four-goal margin was the largest in a victory for the Russian select team since a 5-1 win against the Western Hockey League All-Stars in 2007, a span of 25 games. It also marked the fifth straight win for Team Russia against the QMJHL in the history of the series.
The star for the Russian squad was goaltender Andrey Vasilevskiy, who was named player of the game for Team Russia. He made an incredible glove save off Jean-Sebastien Dea in the dying seconds of the first period and made a number of other spectacular saves among his 28 on the night.
The only goals Vasilevski allowed came off QMJHL power plays when Xavier Ouellet - named player of the game for Team QMJHL with a goal and an assist - beat him with a wrist shot early in the second period and Dea finally beat him through the legs at 14:39 of the third, with both goals set up by Florida Panthers prospect Jonathan Huberdeau.
Otherwise, it was a difficult night for the QMJHL’s top line centered by Dea with Huberdeau and Nathan MacKinnon on the wings, with Huberdeau and MacKinnon finishing the game a minus-4 and Dea finishing at minus-3 on the night with the line being largely neutralized at even strength by the Russians.
MacKinnon, a top prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft, was playing out of position on the wing as QMJHL head coach Andre Tourigny wanted to test his versatility with an eye towards his possible inclusion on the Canadian team that will compete at the upcoming World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia. While MacKinnon did display some of the skills that have made him one of the QMJHL’s top players this season, he was largely a non-factor in the game.
Game 2 of the Subway Super Series will be played Wednesday night at the Centre Air Creebec in Val D’Or, when the QMJHL hopes to have Halifax Mooseheads forward Jonathan Drouin in the lineup as he recovers from a foot injury.