The 2019 CIBC Canada Russia Series continues Monday with Game 4 featuring Team OHL and Team Russia. Here are 10 things you need to know ahead of puck drop:
Series at a glance: Team OHL continues the 17th edition of the CIBC Canada Russia Series owning an all-time mark of 26-6-0-1, while Russia stands at 34-61-1-3. Russia has won the tournament four times since 2010, including 2018 by an 11-7 margin when the two sides split their series 1-1.
100th Game: Monday’s contest marks the 100th game in series history, dating back to 2003 when the premiere game was held in London. That night saw Team OHL skate to a 7-1 victory thanks to a two-goal, one-assist performance from Oshawa Generals forward Ben Eager. In all, London has twice previously hosted the event (2003, 2010).
World Junior evaluation: Often used as a springboard for national representation at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, Russia has medaled 13 times at the year-end tournament since 2003, including a gold-medal finish in 2011. Canada has medaled 12 times including seven golds in the same stretch. The 2019 edition saw nine OHL talents join Team Canada on the national stage.
McMichael tops the charts: Team OHL will have the hot hand Monday with London Knights forward Connor McMichael, who currently leads the OHL with 41 points counting 19 goals and 22 assists. The Washington Capitals prospect will be joined on Team OHL alongside Knights teammates Liam Foudy (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Ryan Merkley (San Jose Sharks). Knights bench boss Dale Hunter will also serve as head coach for Team OHL.
Top performers: Leading the way for the OHL in Game 3 in Kitchener included Niagara IceDogs forward Akil Thomas, who finished with a goal and an assist, and Sudbury Wolves forward Quinton Byfield, who picked up a pair of helpers. Also scoring for Team OHL en route to the 4-1 victory was Ty Dellandrea (Flint Firebirds), Connor McMichael (London Knights), and Cole Perfetti (Saginaw Spirit).
All Russian lineup: After including at least one Russian-born CHL talent in their lineup for the first three games of the series, Team Russia will bring a new look for Game 4 with a lineup composed of players who all currently compete in Russia. Leading the way for the team is defenceman Nikita Zorkin who has collected two assists in three games.
Angle in: Joining the Team OHL lineup in place of injured Barrie Colts forward Ryan Suzuki is Windsor Spitfires forward Tyler Angle. Through 16 appearances this season, the Columbus Blue Jackets prospect has recorded 23 points counting 11 goals and 12 assists. Other new players in the lineup for Game 4 include Declan Chisholm (Peterborough Petes), Hunter Jones (Peterborough Petes), Jordan Kooy (Sarnia Sting), Allan McShane (Oshawa Generals), and Jamieson Rees (Sarnia Sting).
Prospect central: A total of 62 NHL prospects are competing in the 2019 CIBC Canada Russia Series, with 28 of the 31 NHL clubs represented by at least one player. The Vegas Golden Knights lead the way with five, followed by the Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, and St. Louis Blues each at four. In Game 4, three NHL teams lead the way with two players each, including the Columbus Blue Jackets (Angle, Foudy), Dallas Stars (Dellandrea, Harley), and Los Angeles Kings (Dudas, Thomas).
2020 NHL Draft hopefuls: Several prospects earmarked for the 2020 NHL Draft are competing in the 2019 CIBC Canada Russia Series, including Sudbury Wolves centre Quinton Byfield, Saginaw Spirit centre Cole Perfetti, and Erie Otters defenceman Jamie Drysdale, all of whom project as first-round candidates in NHL Central Scouting’s Players to Watch report for November.
Lest We Forget: Part of Game 4’s pregame ceremony includes Sergeant Mike ‘Smokey’ Cashman with the Canadian Military Fire Service from 1973-2010, including a United Nations peace keeping tour in Israel, as well as Sergeant Mike Newcombe, who joined the military in 1981 as an infanteer with the Royal Canadian Regiment, serving for 25 years, including deployment to the first Gulf War in Desert Storm.