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QMJHL looks to even Super Series against Russia

by Mike G. Morreale

The all-stars of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League will look to rebound against Team Russia on Wednesday in Val d'Or, Quebec, in the second game of the Subway Super Series at the Centre Air Creebec.

The game can be seen on NHL Network-US at 7 p.m. ET.

Team QMJHL is coming off a 6-2 loss to the Russians on Monday when Mikhail Grigorenko, Nail Yakupov, Maxim Shalunov and Valentin Zykov each notched a goal and one assist. The four-goal margin was the largest in a victory for the Russian select team since a 5-1 verdict against the Western Hockey League in 2007 -- a span of 25 games.

The Russians enter Wednesday's contest having won five straight against Team QMJHL.

The QMJHL is expected to have Halifax Mooseheads teammates Jonathan Drouin and goalie Zach Fucale, both regarded as A-rated prospects by NHL Central Scouting, in the lineup. Both players were sidelined for Wednesday's game.

                   Zachary Fucale, Team QMJHL

Drouin could very well join his usual partner in Halifax, Nathan MacKinnon, who is expected to be picked among the top two players at the 2013 NHL Draft. MacKinnon was a minus-4 on the top line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Jean-Sebastien Dea on Monday.

MacKinnon was playing out of position on wing for much of the game for QMJHL coach Andre Tourigny. Drouin's return could help MacKinnon's transition. Drouin has 11 goals and 24 points in 12 games for Halifax this season. Fucale is 13-1-1 with a 2.58 goals-against average and .888 save percentage this year.

"I didn't think it was too bad [defensively], I think most of their goals were off transition," MacKinnon recalled. "It wasn't like they dominated us in our defensive zone or played down low the whole game, it was just little mistakes in the neutral zone that cost us [on Monday]."

Grigorenko, a first-round draft pick by the Buffalo Sabres in June, expects the QMJHL to rebound on Wednesday.

"We played the way our coach wanted us to play," Grigorenko said. "I think for the Quebec guys, a lot of them had games [Sunday] so they were probably a little bit tired. I think the next game will be a lot tougher and it will be more of a challenge."

Russian goalie Andrey Vasilevskiy, a first-round choice of the Tampa Bay Lightning, was named player of the game in the victory on Monday with 28 saves.

Thursday, the Super Series shifts to Guelph, Ontario, where Team Russia will face the stars of the Ontario Hockey League. Yakupov, the No. 1 draft choice by the Edmonton Oilers in June, will then return to his old OHL stamping grounds for Game 4 of the series on Monday in Sarnia, Ontario, home of the Sarnia Sting.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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