Canada wrested victory from its arch-rival in the finale of the Canada-Russia Challenge in Halifax.
After a 4-2 win over Russia in the last leg of the under-20 men’s hockey tournament at the Metro Centre on Tuesday, the two teams sat tied 2-2 in the series and went to sudden-death overtime to decide a winner.
Ryan Strome, a first-round pick of the New York Islanders, raised the crowd of 8,768 to its feet just 3:20 in, pulling a nice toe-drag move in the faceoff circle and ripping a wrist shot past goaltender Andrei Vasilevski.
“It was big for us,” Strome said. “We had a bitter taste in our mouth from (losing to Russia in the semifinals of) the world juniors last year and this is a little bit of redemption.”
Although it was a pre-season tournament, it celebrated the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series — famously won by Canada — and the games were entertaining and action-packed.
In the regulation win, Portland Winterhawks star Ty Rattie scored back-to-back power-play goals just 2:56 apart in the second period to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead and propel Canada to victory.
Both goals came on rebounds in front, with Rattie showing off the form that helped him bury 76 goals in the Western Hockey League regular season and playoffs last year.
“I think they were just so mad (after Monday’s 6-5 loss), they just couldn’t lose today,” said Russian star Mikhail Grigorenko.
Canada hadn’t led since a 3-2 victory in Game 1 in Yaroslavl, Russia, last Thursday. They’d battled back from five separate deficits over five periods without taking a lead before Rattie bagged the go-ahead marker.
“All the guys were playing well,” said Canadian forward Mark Scheifele, who had three assists. “The combined total of everyone playing their game really helped us wear them down and get the win.”
The puck landed right in front of Strome in overtime after defenceman Xavier Ouellet made a great play to keep the puck in at the blue line. The goal won’t go down in the Canadian history books in the same way as Paul Henderson’s Summit Series-winner, but Strome will take it.
“I like that pull-and-drag shot, I’ve scored a few like that before,” he said. “I saw a little bit of mesh, kind of just threw it on net, and luckily it went in.”
Canadian captain Jonathan Huberdeau hoisted the championship trophy over his head in the post-game celebration and passed it from player to player, while goaltender Malcolm Subban circled around waving a Canadian flag, much to the delight of the home fans.
“The crowd was unbelievable,” Scheifele said. “They gave us that energy that we fed off of and we were able to get that extra bit of energy to put it home.”
Canada out-shot Russia 45-28 in regulation and 5-1 in overtime. Subban, the only Canadian goaltender to post a victory in the series, finished the night with 27 saves.
Huberdeau and Lucas Lessio also scored for Canada while Andrei Sigarev and Albert Yarullin found the net for Russia.