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Mantha's late goal leads QMJHL past Russia

by Adam Kimelman

Anthony Mantha's goal with 4:07 left in the third period snapped a 2-2 tie and gave the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League a 3-2 win against Russia on Monday in the opening game of the Subway Super Series, palyed in Gatineau, Quebec.

Super Series schedule

Game 1 – QMJHL 3, Russia 2
Game 2 – Wed. Nov. 20 at Sherbrooke, Quebec
Game 3 – Thurs. Nov. 21 at Oshawa, Ontario
Game 4 – Mon. Nov. 25 at Sudbury, Ontario
Game 5 – Wed. Nov. 27 at Red Deer, Alberta
Game 6 – Thurs. Nov. 28 at Lethbridge, Alberta

The line of Mantha, Charles Hudon and Jonathan Drouin supplied all the offense for QMJHL. Hudon had two goals and an assist; Drouin had the primary assist on all three goals.

Ivan Barbashev, who plays in the QMJHL for the Moncton Wildcats and is the league's top-rated prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft, scored for Russia. Vladimir Tkachyov also had a goal on a spectacular end-to-end rush.

Mantha, taken by the Detroit Red Wings with the 20th pick of the 2013 draft, scored the winner at 15:53 of the third. Hudon carried the puck into the Russia end and dropped it for Drouin. His shot was blocked, but Mantha grabbed the loose puck in front of the Russia net, kicked it his backhand in the crease and scored. 

Strong play in front of the net is nothing new for Mantha. Last season he was the only 2013 draft-eligible player in the Canadian Hockey League to score 50 goals, and this season he leads the QMJHL with 24 goals and 54 points in 23 games. 

Hudon, a 2012 fifth-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens (No. 122) opened the scoring at 11:56 of the first period. Drouin jumped on a loose puck in the neutral zone, skated into the Russia zone and dropped a pass for Hudon, who wired a low wrist shot from the right circle past Russia goalie Ivan Nalimov. 

An electric play by Drouin allowed the QMJHL to take a 2-0 lead early in the second. The third pick of the 2013 draft carried the puck end to end, and as he got to goal line in the Russia end, he backhanded a pass to a trailing Hudon who slid it under Nalimov at 4:02 of the second.

Russia cut the lead in half when Barbashev, who earned an A rating from NHL Central Scouting in its November list of players to watch from the QMJHL, scored at 10:01 of the second.

Russia tied the game on a nice 4-on-4 goal by Tkachyov, another 2014 draft-eligible player, at 6:06. He picked up the pick deep in the Russia zone, carried it into the QMJHL zone, stepped around forward Laurent Dauphin, pushed the puck between the skates of defenseman Samuel Morin and scored high over the glove of QMJHL goalie Zachary Fucale.

Tkachyov, a 5-foot-9, 146-pound left wing with Omsk in the KHL, earned a B rating from Central Scouting in its November players to watch list.

The teams will play again Wednesday in Sherbrooke, Quebec.


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