Moose Jaw, SK – Shaunavon, Sask. product Kole Lind led the way with two goals and an assist as six different players had multi-point outputs in a 7-0 Team WHL victory in Game 1 of the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series in Moose Jaw.
Lind joined another fan favourite in Moose Jaw Warriors captain Brett Howden in playing a prominent role while Los Angeles Kings prospect Kale Clague (Brandon Wheat Kings) recorded three assists on the night.
“We had a good start to the game, that’s what we carried on throughout the whole game. They had little spurts of their chances, but we definitely capitalized when we needed to and Hartsy [Carter Hart] definitely stood out tonight too.”
“We’re definitely a really fast team too,” Lind continued. “That showed tonight.”
Philadelphia Flyers prospect Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips) became the third WHL goaltender in event history to record a full 60-minute shutout, turning away all 20 shots that came his way including a number of early high quality scoring chances.
Hart provided a trio of big saves off Russian attackers Vladislav Kara, Artyom Manukyan and Maxim Tsyplakov in the opening half of the first frame before Lind opened the scoring for Team WHL at 13:31.
Just as a WHL power play expired, Lind wired a high shot over the shoulder of Vladislav Sukhachev with assists from Howden and Clague.
Team WHL increased its lead 5:13 into the second period as Clague sent a shot goalward that caromed off the skate of Calgary Flames prospect Matthew Phillips (Victoria Royals) and past Sukhachev. Josh Mahura (Regina Pats) also picked up an assist on the goal.
Lind picked up his second of the night less than five minutes later at 9:52 on a tremendous play by Detroit Red Wings prospect Michael Rasmussen (Tri-City Americans). Battling past a Russian check, Rasmussen lost his footing but managed to centre the puck for an oncoming Lind who had an open net to make the score 3-0 at the midway point of the game.
Hometown hero Howden brought the Moose Jaw faithful to their feet with 2:17 remaining in the second, increasing the WHL lead to 4-0 on a deflection in the slot. Howden got a stick on Dennis Cholowski’s (Prince George Cougars) point wrister while Tanner Kaspick (Brandon Wheat Kings) also picked up an assist.
WHL scoring leader Tyler Steenbergen (Swift Current Broncos) wrapped up a four-goal second period with 36 seconds left on the clock as Dillon Dube (Kelowna Rockets) centred for Sam Steel (Regina Pats) before the puck found the stick of an open Steenbergen who provided the finish to make the score 5-0 after 40 minutes.
Russia made a goaltending change after two periods as Sukhachev gave way to Alexey Melnichuk after surrendering five goals on 26 shots.
Lind’s standout performance continued early in the third period as he entered the zone off the rush to find Cody Glass (Portland Winterhawks) streaking down the right wing to make it 6-0 at 1:23. Rasmussen also picked up an assist to give him two on the night.
Clague collected his third assist of the night moments later at 4:59, springing Dube in alone as he beat Melnichuk on a second effort to round out the WHL scoring in a 7-0 final.
Team WHL outshot Russia 33-20 in the victory, going 0-for-5 on the power play to Russia’s 0-for-1 mark. Team WHL was also effective in the faceoff circle, winning 69 percent (35-of-51) of their draws on the night.
The decisive win marks the fifth time in event history that Team WHL has put up at least seven goals in a game. Kale Clague’s three assists make him one of six WHL players in event history to record three helpers in a game.
“It’s not an easy thing to do to put lines together and develop chemistry,” said Team WHL head coach Tim Hunter (Moose Jaw Warriors) as he reflected on the win. “They seemed to click. I don’t know if we’d change anything for tomorrow night. We talked about the possibility of changes, but we looked pretty good tonight. Overall, right through the lineup, the lines seemed to click and have good chemistry.”
Team WHL’s Brett Howden (Moose Jaw Warriors) left the game with an injury in the third period and did not return.
The 7-0 Team WHL win marks the ninth time in event history that Russia has been shutout. They look to rebound in Swift Current on Tuesday as the two clubs clash in Game 2 of the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series at the Credit Union iPlex.
Tuesday night’s matchup can be seen live on Sportsnet Ontario, East and Sportsnet ONE when the puck drops at 8:00pm ET/7:00 pm CT.