Kirill Kapustin’s hat trick Friday helped Russia even a junior hockey challenge with Canada in a penalty-filled 6-3 victory for the Russians, as the series prepares for a move to Halifax next week.
Russia led all the way, although Canada twice came with one goal of tying the game. Canada won the first game of the series 3-2.
“Any time we seemed to get close we seemed to take a penalty,” said a disappointed Canadian coach Steve Spott.
Penalties were a major factor for much of the game. Canada’s No. 1 centre Mark Scheifele, who has been signed by the Winnipeg Jets, was ejected in the scoreless first period on a game misconduct after a kneeing call again Kapustin.
While Spott defended Scheifele saying the kneeing call was in his view unfair, he said other penalties were not and they killed momentum.
“We knew that if we took poor penalties and were soft with our discipline we were going to allow them to stay in the game. Ultimately, for me, that was the difference in the game,” said Spott.
After a total of 15 penalties split among the two teams in the first two periods, things settled down in the third. Canada took the only penalty, a slashing call, but still finished the game with nine to Russia’s seven.
Anton Zlobin and Kapustin both scored on power plays early in the second period. Ty Rattie, a draft pick of the St. Louis Blues, scored a power-play goal to bring Canada within one but Kapustin scored his second short-handed to make it 3-1.
Morgan Reilly, who just signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, tipped it in to bring Canada again within one goal of a tie in the third. About two minutes later, Maxim Shalunov extended Russia’s lead.
Kapustin made it 5-2 with his third goal but Canada’s Ryan Strome replied, scoring less than a minute later.
Shalunov scored an empty netter to seal the win as the series moves to Halifax Monday and Tuesday.
The series is being played as a tribute to Kontinental Hockey League team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
The club was devastated by a plane crash last September that killed 44 players and coaches, including former NHL defenceman Brad McCrimmon.
Kapustin plays with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
“It was very emotional,” said Spott. “The crowd was in it. I can tell you the fans here in Yaroslavl have been outstanding.”
Spott and the players are looking forward to the next two games in Halifax, when Canada will have the crowd on its side.
“I know our team’s really excited about the atmosphere in Halifax,” said Spott.
But he says they have to play a more disciplined game.
“The penalties that we took, for me, were ones that were uncharacteristic for us. They were stick penalties they were far away from our goaltenders. . .
“They’re penalties that were unacceptable in an event like this.”