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Shinkaruk keys Team WHL to shootout win

by Adam Kimelman

About a year ago, Medicine Hat forward Hunter Shinkaruk stood at center ice in the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon waiting for his shootout attempt against Saskatoon Blades goalie Andrey Makarov. He already had beaten Makarov once in regulation that Nov. 22 night, but in the shootout, Makarov won the battle as Saskatoon finished with a 4-3 victory.

Wednesday night, Shinkaruk stood at center ice at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver waiting for another shootout chance against Makarov.

He clearly learned from his previous miss -- the 2013 NHL Draft prospect beat Makarov to lead Team WHL to a 1-0 shootout victory against Russia in Game 5 of the CHL Subway Super Series.

Mark McNeill and Sam Reinhart also scored in the shootout for Team WHL, and goalie Laurent Brossoit turned aside three shooters as the Canadian Hockey League took a 3-2 lead in the six-game series.

The game was scoreless through regulation thanks to the outstanding play by both goaltenders. Brossoit, a Calgary Flames 2011 sixth-round pick, stopped all 30 shots he faced in regulation. His best play in the third period came when he denied Yaroslav Kosov during 4-on-4 play.

Makarov stopped 35 shots, but was at his best in the third period, when made 12 saves. McNeill, a Chicago Blackhawks 2011 first-round pick, had a pair of chances. During an early power play, he snapped a shot on net from the high slot that Makarov gloved through traffic. Later, McNeill dragged the puck around a charging Russian defender to create a scoring chance, but Makarov was up to the challenge.

Shinkaruk also had a nice chance that Makarov gloved, then he denied Brady Brassart from in front after Russia turned over the puck at its blue line.

After regulation, the game went right to a five-man shootout. Mitchell Holmberg was stopped on his attempt, as was Nail Yakupov, Russia's first shooter.

Shinkaruk, who has six goals in five WHL games against Makarov and the Blades, went next for Team WHL. He raced in on the right side and as he cut to the middle, the left-shooting center shot the puck back over Makarov's glove.

Shinkaruk, who received an A rating from NHL Central Scouting in its preliminary rankings of players to watch, is tied for fourth in the Western Hockey League with 33 points in 22 games. He had 49 goals and 91 points last season.

Brossoit next stopped a low backhand attempt by Vladimir Tkachev, then McNeill's low shot got under Makarov. Brossoit stopped Andrei Sigarev with his left pad, then Reinhart -- a front-runner to be the first pick of the 2014 draft -- stuffed the puck between Makarov's skate and the post to clinch the win for Team WHL.

The series will be decided Thursday when the teams shift to Victoria, British Columbia for the Super Series finale. The game can be seen live starting at 10 p.m. ET on NHL Network in the United States and Sportsnet in Canada.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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