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Russia earns 6-3 exhibition win over Team USA

by Mike G. Morreale /
Nail Yakupov, who is projected by many to be the No. 1 overall pick at the 2012 Draft, had a goal and one assist and Andrei Vasilevski made 34 saves as the Russian National Junior Team scored a 6-3 exhibition victory over Team USA on Tuesday in Red Deer, Alta., in preparation for the 2012 World Junior Championship later this month.

          Nail Yakupov, Team Russia
Russia, the defending WJC gold medalist, also received a pair of goals by Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay Lightning) and one apiece from Ignat Zemchenko and Viktor Antipin. Ivan Telegin (Winnipeg Jets) dished out three assists in the victory. Vasilevski, who plays for Tolpar Ufa in the MHL and is eligible for the 2012 Draft, made 17 of 18 saves in the second period when the U.S. held the territorial advantage. Yakupov, who plays for the Sarnia Sting, is NHL Central Scouting's top-rated player from the Ontario Hockey League.

Coach Valeri Bragin kept the top 2012 draft-eligible player from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Mikhail Grigorenko (Quebec Remparts), and Yevgeni Kuznetsov (Washington Capitals) out of the lineup as healthy scratches for the Russians, who went 2 for 4 on the power play. Team USA finished 0 for 6 with the man advantage.

U.S. coach Dean Blais, whose team never led in the game, decided to sit defensemen Jarred Tinordi and Kevin Gravel and forwards Brandon Saad, Kyle Rau, Nick Bjugstad and T.J. Tynan for Tuesday's game. Josh Archibald (Pittsburgh Penguins), J.T. Miller (NY Rangers) and Kenny Agostino (Pittsburgh Penguins) scored the goals for Team USA. Goalie Jack Campbell (Dallas Stars) stopped 20 of 25 shots in the loss.

"While we're disappointed with the loss, this is just a step in our evaluation process," Blais said. "We will continue to work to prepare for the tournament, beginning with [Wednesday's] exhibition game against Switzerland."

The youngest player on the U.S. roster, defenseman Seth Jones (2013 draft eligible), was apparently laboring a bit after taking a few hard hits during the game and his status for Wednesday's scrimmage against Switzerland (9:30 p.m. ET) is questionable.

According to USA Hockey's live blog during the game, Blais set his lineups as follows:

Jason Zucker-Charlie Coyle-Emerson Etem
Shane Prince-Austin Czarnik-Brian Ferlin
Connor Brickley-Austin Watson-Josh Archibald
Kenny Agostino-Bill Arnold-J.T. Miller
John Gaudreau

Austin Levi-Jacob Trouba
Derek Forbort-Stephen Johns
Jon Merrill-Seth Jones
Adam Clendening

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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