Ryan Strome went to a reliable move to help Canada win the Canada-Russia Challenge.
Strome scored at 3:20 of overtime on Tuesday to give Canada the series victory after the Canadians won 4-2 Game 4 in regulation time.
Canada needed a win in regulation time to tie the Challenge 2-2. The 4-2 victory set up a 20-minute sudden-death overtime to decide who would win the series.
After some great work by Xavier Ouellet to keep the puck in the Russian zone, Strome took a pass and fired a wristshot past Russian goalie Andrei Vasilevski.
“I like that pull-and-drag shot, I’ve scored a few like that before,” said Strome, a scoring star with the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs. “I saw a little bit of the mesh and put it on net and, luckily, it went in.”
Canadian teammate Mark Scheifele, who plays for the Barrie Colts of the OHL and is a prospect with the Winnipeg Jets, has seen the move a few times.
“That’s going to probably stick in my mind for a long time,” Scheifele said of Strome’s series clincher. “He’s a great player he really helped us get over that hump. He’s got an unbelievable shot and unbelievable moves.”
The overtime period was set up by some clutch scoring by Portland Winterhawks forward Ty Rattie, who scored two power-play goals less than three minutes apart in the second period to help Canada earn a 4-2 regulation win.
After winning the first game of the series that commemorates the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series, Canada lost Game 2 in Russia and then dropped Game 3 in Halifax to fall behind.
Russia’s Mikhail Grigorenko said beating the Canadians two games in a row made winning Game 4 more difficult — especially since it was on Canadian ice.
“I think they were just so made and they couldn’t lose today,” said the Quebec Remparts forward.
Although it was an exhibition, the intensity and calibre of play indicated otherwise.
“I think it was big for us,” said Strome. “We had a bitter taste in our mouth from the world juniors last year.”
Canada lost to Russia 6-5 in the semifinal at last year’s tournament.
“This was a little bit of redemption, but whoever’s back at Christmas time that’s where we really want to be at,” said Strome.
Rattie said a pre-game pep talk from 1972 Team Canada veteran Ken Dryden and a phone call from former Canadian captain Phil Esposito helped motivate the team.
Asked what Dryden said in the dressing room, Rattie said: “He said ‘This is your Team Canada, just run with it.“’
In the first period, Andrei Sigarev capped off a flurry of good chances when he picked up a loose puck in his zone and rushed up ice in a 2-on-1. After almost losing control of the puck, he corralled it and slipped a soft wristshot between the legs of Canadian goalie Malcolm Subban.
Canada tied it after some great pressure by the line of Strome, Jonathan Huberdeau and Lucas Lessio created a hectic goal-mouth scramble. Lessio, who plays for the OHL’s Oshawa Generals, banged home a rebound from the doorstep to tie the game 1-1.
Subban made a great save sliding across to stop Russian star Nail Yakupov late in the first period to keep the game tied heading into the break.
Albert Yarullin ripped a one-timer from the point through a crowd off the post and past Subban at 4:18 of the second to make it 2-1 Russia.
Canada made quick work of a power-play opportunity midway through the second period. Eight seconds after Andrei Pedan went to the box for hooking, Rattie swept home a rebound off a Scheifele shot to tie it at 2-2.
Canada took the lead as Rattie scored his second goal with the man advantage, this time knocking home a loose puck with a backhander.
The series is a tribute to Kontinental Hockey League team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. The club was devastated last September when a plane carrying the team crashed and killed 44 players and coaches, including former NHL defenceman Brad McCrimmon.
Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said the series helped provide some closure for Byron McCrimmon, Brad’s dad.
“What we wanted to do was go over there and show respect to those players,” Nicholson said. “Another key thing was we wanted to take Byron, Brad’s dad, with us. He went through all the sites and visited so many of the people Brad knew before the fatal accident.”
Nicholson was also pleased with the crowds in Halifax.
“Halifax has been very special to Hockey Canada,” he said. “It’s the only city in Canada to host world junior, women’s worlds and men’s worlds. Halifax and the area responded again.”
Notes: The crowd gave a standing ovation to players from 1972 Summit Series who took part in the ceremonial faceoff. Yuri Lyapkin, Alexander Yakushev, and Vladislav Tretiak represented Russia while Ken Dryden, Don Awrey and Pat Stapleton were there for Canada. During the first intermission, the crowd was on its feet again for Halifax kayaker Mark de Jonge who received a personalized Team Canada jersey from Hockey Canada.