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Russia defeats WHL in overtime

Denis Alexeyev scores winner in first game of series against Canada juniors

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Denis Alexeyev scored 55 seconds into overtime to give Russia a 3-2 victory against the Western Hockey League in the first game of the 2016 Canada Russia Series at CN Centre in Prince George, British Columbia, on Monday.

Alexeyev, a 2017 NHL Draft prospect, lost a faceoff in the Russia zone but got the puck back from teammate Artyom Chmykhov, skated the length of the ice, used his speed to back down WHL defensemen Callan Foote and Parker Wotherspoon (New York Islanders), and scored on a wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle. Foote received an A rating from NHL Central Scouting in its preliminary players to watch list.

Nikita Li and Danila Kvartalnov scored for Russia, and Anton Krasotkin made 32 saves. Each is eligible for the 2017 draft.

Jansen Harkins (Winnipeg Jets) and Sam Steel (Anaheim Ducks) scored for the WHL. Goaltender Connor Ingram (Tampa Bay Lightning) made 18 saves.

The WHL went 1-for-7 on the power play, including a 44-second 5-on-3 advantage early in the second period.

"I thought everyone played hard, we played with a purpose," WHL coach Tim Hunter told the Canadian Hockey League website. "We outshot them, we outplayed them for 75 percent of the game. But they're a good hockey team, they'll make adjustments and it will be another fun game tomorrow."

The WHL tied the game 2-2 at 9:34 of the third period on Steel's power-play goal. He took a shot from the right side and crashed the net to score off the rebound. Selected by the Ducks with the 30th pick of the 2016 draft, he leads the WHL with 14 goals and 28 points in 13 games.

Russia had taken a 2-1 lead at 3:47 of the third when Kvartalnov finished a 4-on-2 rush with a wrist shot past Ingram.

Li scored on Russia's first shot 1:13 into the first period to make it 1-0, and Harkins tied it 1-1 at 10:15 of the first when he scored off the rush after a nice spinning backhand pass from Deven Sideroff (Ducks).

Russia and the WHL will play in Edmonton on Tuesday.

The six-game series is one of the steps in picking the teams for Canada and Russia for the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship. Hunter, who coaches Moose Jaw in the WHL, will be an assistant coach for Canada at the WJC.

"We want to see how they perform when the lights are a little brighter, with more people in the stands and more pressure playing against a real good team," he said. "A lot of guys passed with flying colors so it was good to see."

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