The time in Moscow has been really unique. We played our first game as a team against the Russian junior team, CSKA Red Army, and earned a 4-2 victory. Heading into such a historic arena to play that team was a pretty cool experience … just to think about all the great players who have played there.
We didn't have the start we wanted but it was a pretty good pace throughout the first period. We started to pick it up and the power-play was working. Our best period was probably the third and we really took it to them. Even though it was an exhibition game, it was a good win for the team to help build some momentum going into the tournament in Omsk.
Their style is a little different and presented some challenges to us defensemen. Coming into the zone, they always had two forwards close together, either looking for a quick shot or a drop-pass for a one-timer, and it was a little tough because we didn't want to have two of our defensemen playing so close together. The Russian team also seemed to look for that long stretch quite often.
The day before our game, we had practice and then a chance to go sightseeing. It was a four-hour bus tour around Moscow. Our guide spoke pretty good English so that helped out a lot. We had an idea of some of things we would see, but had no idea Moscow was this big. It was really cool to take it all in and see everything.
The one place that stuck out to me was the Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square. It had so many colors and really captures a lot of attention.
One of the biggest things we have noticed is the traffic in Moscow. It seems like every day there is a close call because we aren’t sure when and where to cross the street at times. Probably not something I should laugh about, but it is funny to watch guys dodge cars.
Food is different here and breakfast is probably the hardest meal because they sort of have more undercooked food than North American style. But the hotel staff has adjusted to us very well and we are fortunate to have that.
We played a second exhibition again across the city against a junior team named HC MVD in Balashikha. It was about an hour trip across town and we got to the rink really early so we went for a little walk around this park that had a petting zoo. The rink itself was beautiful. Again, we didn’t have a start to the game like we wanted to, but came back a little bit in the second period. MVD scored a late power-play goal and then added an empty netter to beat us 4-2.
Now we're off to Omsk and excited to get started with the Junior Club World Cup [against HC Energie of the Czech Republic]. It is still early in the trip, but the thing that has stuck out to me the most is how we are gelling as a group. There is such a good vibe around the team and it makes this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity even more special.
Check back often and thanks for reading!
Follow Ian McCoshen on Twitter at: @ijmccoshen3
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