Nail Yakupov heating up for Sarnia

Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 10:03 AM | Mike G. Morreale  - Staff Writer
There's no question Sarnia Sting right wing Nail Yakupov, NHL Central Scouting's top-rated North American skater, has scored plenty of highlight-reel goals in his two seasons in the Ontario Hockey League.

But Monday's marker in a 6-2 victory over the Canadian Hockey League's top team, the London Knights, may have surpassed all others.

With Sarnia holding a 4-2 lead midway through the third period, Yakupov collected the puck at his own blueline, curled London forward Andreas Athanasiou before speeding up ice and bringing a crowd of 5,100 to the edge of their seats in anticipation.

It was Yakupov's first home game since Dec. 11, as he had been sidelined by knee and wrist injuries suffered at various points throughout the season.

After skating into the London zone and reaching the top of the left circle, the crafty Russian used the defenseman as a screen before snapping a quick shot over the far shoulder of London goalie Michael Houser.

Check out the goal right here.

It was Yakupov's 27th goal of the season and fifth in five games in the month of February. The 5-foot-10 1/2, 189-pound Yakupov is second on the team with 61 points, including 27 goals and 34 assists, in 34 games this season. He led all rookies in the OHL last season with 101 points (49 goals) in 65 games.

Yakupov won a silver medal for Russia at the 2012 World Junior Championships ater producing 9 assists and a plus-4 rating in seven games. His teammate in Sarnia, Alex Galchenyuk, who is also regarded highly by NHL scouts and general managers, was supposed to be sidelined the entire regular season after undergoing ACL surgery. But, according to The London Free Press, he could return March 1.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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