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Prospects Ready for Canada-Russia Challenge

by Travis Betts / New York Islanders
Canada-Russia Challenge Schedule
Date Time* Location Venue and TV Network

Aug. 9 11:00 a.m. Yaroslavl, RUS Arena 2000 (TSN2)
Aug. 10 10:00 a.m. Yaroslavl, RUS Arena 2000 (TSN2)
Aug. 13 7:00 p.m. Halifax, NS Halifax Metro Centre (TSN)
Aug. 14 7:00 p.m. Halifax, NS Halifax Metro Centre (TSN)
* All times Eastern
Starting Aug. 9, more than 50 of the top Canadian and Russian junior hockey players, including four New York Islanders prospects, will take part in the 2012 Canada-Russia Challenge. The tournament pays homage to the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the USSR, which saw top professional players in the NHL and Soviet Union square off in a classic eight-game battle.

Islanders draft picks Ryan Strome (2011, 1st round, 5th overall), Griffin Reinhart (2012, 1st round, 4th overall) and Adam Pelech (2012, 3rd round, 65th overall) will represent Team Canada, while Andrey Pedan (2011, 3rd round, 63rd overall) will suit up for Team Russia.

The 2012 series starts with two games on Aug. 9-10 at Arena 2000 in Yaroslavl, RUS, and concludes with a pair of contests on August 13-14 at the Halifax Metro Centre in Halifax, NS.

Strome, who represented Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championships, expects the four-game exhibition to be the highlight of his summer.

“It's a huge honor being selected to play in this tournament,” Strome said. “I'm looking forward to another chance to represent Canada, especially in such a prestigious and historic event.”

Strome and co. were all born more than 20 years after the ’72 series, regarded in the hockey community as a turning point in the sport’s history. Back then, the teams played four games in Canada and four in Moscow over a 27-day span in September. While the Canadians were expected to dominate the series, the Soviet squad, made up of mostly players from the Red Army team, gave Canada all they could handle.

1972 Summit Series
Date Location Score
1 Sep. 2 Montreal, QC USSR 7
2 Sep. 4 Toronto, ON CAN 4
3 Sep. 6 Winnipeg, MB CAN 4
4 Sep. 8 Vancouver, BC USSR 5
5 Sep. 22 Moscow, RUS USSR 5
6 Sep. 24 Moscow, RUS CAN 3
7 Sep. 26 Moscow, RUS CAN 4
8 Sep. 28 Moscow, RUS CAN 6

JP Parise, who played for the Islanders from 1975-78, remembers how he and the rest of the Canadian team underestimated the Russians, who were billed as “amateurs” leading into the series.

“I didn’t think they were going to be as good as they were,” Parise said. “But if you think about it, we were playing against the best hockey players in Russia. The Russians were so prepared for us. Everyone here thought that the big fat pro hockey players in America were just going to saw through the poor, amateur players from Russia. But we did not anticipate that they were going to be as good or that they would have so many outstanding hockey players.”

The Soviets cruised to a 7-3 win in Game 1 and went 2-1-1 in Canada before winning Game 5 in Moscow. While many Canadian fans remember the final games of the series largely because of questionable officiating in the home team’s favor, the Canadians found their backs to the wall with a seemingly impossible task at hand.

“We had to win the last three games in Moscow,” Parise said. “That was almost impossible. They made it tough for us. They selected their own officials and all that. In the sixth game, they had this official named Kompalla – and if you look at the game stats, the penalties were like 11 to 3, or some ungodly thing like that (Note: Canada had 31 penalty minutes, Russia had four), so we had to kill penalties for most of the game. Then when the eighth game was on the line, another game that we had to win, there was a Swedish official that was supposed to be doing the game. Somehow at game time, he was nowhere to be seen, and so that’s why they picked Kompalla to come back.”

In the eighth and final game, the Canadian squad was flagged for several penalties early on, and four minutes in, Parise was given a game misconduct after showing his frustration. The Soviets had the lead four separate times, including a 5-3 advantage going into the third period, but Canada tied the game late, and with 34 seconds left in regulation, Paul Henderson scored what turned out to be one of the most iconic goals in Canada’s history, giving the Canadians a 6-5 lead. Canada won the series with a 4-3-1 record.

While the 2012 series has fewer political undertones and features junior players in place of NHL stars, one thing worth noting is the knowledge the two teams have of one another. Five Russian players, including Pedan, played junior hockey in Canada last season, and eight have been drafted by NHL clubs. Strome has more of a scouting report on the Russian team than his ’72 counterparts did.

“The Russians always have a lot of skill and many of their players are making a name for themselves over there already,” Strome said. “This will be different competition from what we are used to, especially the first couple of games on the big ice surface in Russia. This should be a really great four games.”

Check for game recaps and other coverage throughout the tournament.

Team Canada

Team Russia

Name No. Pos. Name No. Pos.
Malcolm Subban 30 G Denis Perevozchikov 1 G
Laurent Broissoit 31 G Andrei Makarov 20 G
Maxime Legace 33 G Andrei Vasilevski 30 G
Mathew Dumba 2 D Andrey Pedan 2 D
Cody Ceci 3 D Artyom Sergeyev 3 D
Dougie Hamilton 4 D Alexei Vasilevski 4 D
Morgan Rielly 5 D Albert Yarullin 5 D
Scott Harrington 6 D Mikhail Naumenkov 6 D
Griffin Reinhart 8 D Nikita Nesterov 9 D
Xavier Ouellet 16 D Ivan Kuznetsov 13 D
Ryan Murphy 24 D Kirill Diakov 27 D
Ryan Murray 27 D Maxim Osipov 28 D
Adam Pelech 29 D Vsevolod Sorokin 29 D
Phil Di Giuseppe 7 F Nikolai Prokhorin 7 F
Hunter Shinkaruk 9 F Maxim Shalunov 8 F
Charles Hudon 10 F Nail Yakupov 10 F
Jonathan Huberdeau 11 F Anton Slepyshev 11 F
Tom Wilson 12 F Andrei Sigarev 12 F
Kevin Roy 15 F Alexander Kadeykin 14 F
Ryan Strome 18 F Sergei Tverdokhlebov 15 F
Mark Scheifele 19 F Daniil Romantsev 16 F
Sean Monahan 20 F Anton Zlobin 17 F
Phillip Danault 21 F Yaroslav Kosov 18 F
Boone Jenner 22 F Pavel Buchnevich 19 F
Lukas Sutter 23 F Kirill Kasputin 21 F
Ty Rattie 26 F Bulatov Khammatov 22 F
Brendan Leipsic 28 F Sergei Shmelev 23 F
Lucas Lessio 38 F Artem Fedorov 24 F
Mikhail Grigorenko 25 F
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