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Rielly Records Assist In Canada's Win Over Russia

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

YAROSLAVL, Russia -- Emotions were running high Thursday as Canada's top junior hockey players beat Russia 3-2 in the first game of the Canada-Russia Challenge.

But Canadian coach Steve Spott wasn't happy with the undisciplined play his team, adding it's something that will have to be worked on prior to Game 2 of the series Friday.

``We're going to have to address our discipline,'' Spott said. ``This group is real physical. The challenge for us is going to be to continue to play physical but not cross a line where it's going to cost us penalties.

``It's a lesson learned. Thankfully it didn't hurt us.''

Canada's Dougie Hamilton scored the game winner on a power play for Canada in the second period to kick off the four-game series.

Hamilton, a draft pick of the Boston Bruins, scored late in the second period to give Canada a 3-1 lead.

Sean Monahan and Scott Harrington had the other goals for Canada, while Anton Slepyshev and Nail Yakupov replied for Russia.

Yakupov, who was drafted first overall by the Edmonton Oilers in June, scored on a power play late in the third to bring Russia to within one.

``We turned over some pucks that allowed them to use their speed and their skill so we'll address that tonight,'' Spott said.

After Friday, the series shifts to Halifax for games on Monday and Tuesday.

The series is being played as a tribute to Kontinental Hockey League team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. The club was involved in a horrific plane crash last September that killed 44 players and coaches.

``It's been an emotional time for us,'' said Spott.

Former NHL defenceman Brad McCrimmon, who was coaching Yaroslavl at the time of the accident, was killed in the crash.

His father, Byron McCrimmon, is with the Canadian team at the tournament.

``Byron joined us in Toronto and has been part of our team since we've got to Yaroslavl,'' Spott said. ``Our players have had a chance to bond with him and he probably has to be one of the strongest men I've ever met.

``With the ceremony yesterday and the game tonight he's a pillar of strength and I think an inspiration for all of us.''

The tournament is also celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series.

``I think we've tried to create the culture here of 1972,'' Spott said, adding that Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Esposito, who played for Canada in the '72 series, was also on the road with the team to show support.

``(Our players) understand now that this is not just an evaluation for (the world junior hockey championship in) December but there's a lot of national pride on hand here,'' Spott said.

``I can tell you that the full house in this building fully expected a physical game and an emotional game and they definitely got what they were hoping for.''

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