Many of the top junior-aged players from the Canadian Hockey League will look to avenge last year's setback to the Russian National Junior Team when the 2011 Subway Super Series is contested for the ninth straight season across three regions of Canada beginning next week.
Last season's tournament marked the first time in eight tries that the Russians won the series -- they took four of six games while facing stars from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League.
2011 Subway Super Series Schedule
Nov. 7: QMJHL vs. Russia at Victoriaville, Que.
Nov. 9: QMJHL vs. Russia at Quebec City, Que
Nov. 10: OHL vs. Russia at Ottawa, Ont.
Nov. 14: OHL vs. Russia at Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
Nov. 16: WHL vs. Russia at Regina, Sask.
Nov. 17: WHL vs. Russia at Moose Jaw, Sask.
The Russians will send 22 players, including three chosen in the 2011 NHL Draft -- Maxim Shalunov
, fourth round), Nikita Kucherov
(Tampa Bay Lightning
, second round)
and defenseman Nikita Nesterov
(Tampa Bay, fifth round). Shalunov and Nesterov are two of only four 1993-born Russian players making the trip for the series while the other 18 players all were born in 1992.
The tournament opens Nov. 7 with the stars of the QMJHL playing host to Russia in Victoriaville, Que. The second contest will be staged two days later in Quebec City. The QMJHL roster is highlighted by six players selected in the Draft last June, including Jonathan Huberdeau
), Nathan Beaulieu
) and Zach Phillips (Minnesota Wild
) of the defending Memorial Cup champion Saint John Sea Dogs.
There are two highly coveted 2012 draft-eligible prospects starring for the QMJHL, including forwards Raphael Bussieres (Baie-Comeau Drakkar) and Charles Hudon (Chicoutimi Sagueneens). Interestingly, another top prospect for 2012, Mikhail Grigorenko of the Quebec Remparts, will play for his country against the league he currently stars in during the game in Quebec City.
The OHL leg of the six-game series begins Nov. 10 in Ottawa before moving north to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., on Nov. 14. Russian center and Sarnia Sting standout Nail Yakupov, who many feel will be the No. 1 choice next June, will play for Russia in the Ottawa game.
Last season, the OHL won both games, 4-0 and 2-1, to improve to 16-0 all-time against Russia in the series.
Three OHL players eligible for the 2012 Draft will be participating at the game in Ottawa, including defensemen Cody Cedi (Ottawa 67s) and Slater Koekkoek (Peterborough Petes) and goaltender Andrew D'Agostini (Peterborough Petes).
Team WHL will face the Russians in the fifth and sixth games of the tour on Nov. 16 in Regina, Sask., and Nov. 17 in Moose Jaw, Sask. The top 2012 draft prospects participating at the game in Regina are defensemen Matt Dumba of Red Deer and Griffin Reinhart of Edmonton and forward Colton Sissons of Kelowna; blue-chip defenseman Morgan Rielly of Moose Jaw will play on home ice against the Russians on Nov. 17. Three players selected in the 2011 Draft also earned a roster spot -- forwards Mark McNeill
) and defensemen Duncan Siemens
) and Joe Morrow (Pittsburgh Penguins
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
Team Russia roster
: Sergey Kostenko (Metallurg, Novokuznetsk); Pavel Suchkov (Dizel, Penza)
: Victor Antipin (Metallurg, Magnitogorsk); Roman Rukavishnikov (Atlant, Moscow Region); Mikhail Naumenkov
(CSKA); Efim Gurkin (Salavat Yulaev, Ufa); Artem Karavaev (Sibir, Novosibirsk); Grigory Zheldakov (Spartak, Moscow); Ildar Isangulov
(Salavat Yulaev, Ufa); Nikita Nesterov
: Nikita Gusev
(CSKA); Nikita Kucherov
(CSKA); Vladislav Kartaev (Salavat Yulaev, Ufa); Kirill Rasskazov (Avangard, Omsk); Daniil Apalkov
(Metallurg, Magnitogorsk); Pavel Kulikov
(Neftekhimik, Nizhnekamsk); Maxim Shalunov
(Traktor, Chelyabinsk); Pavel Medvedev (Spartak, Moscow); Bogdan Potekhin (Metallurg, Magnitogorsk); Bulat Shavaleev (Ak Bars, Kazan); Valery Knyazev (Sibir, Novosibirsk); Emil Galimov (Neftekhimik, Nizhnekamsk)
Victoriaville game only
: Artem Sergeev
(Val d’Or Foreurs); Anton Zlobin (Shawinigan Cataractes)
Quebec City game only
: Mikhail Grigorenko (Quebec Remparts)
Ottawa game only
: Alexander Khokhlachev
(Windsor Spitfires); Vladislav Namestnikov
(London Knights); Andrey Pedan
(Guelph Storm); Ivan Telegin
(Barrie Colts); Nail Yakupov (Sarnia Sting)
Regina game only
: Andrey Makarov (Saskatoon Blades)