The 2016 World Junior Championship doesn’t begin until late December, but the rivalry between Canada and Russia has already been turned up a notch.
In a World Junior Showcase game played Monday evening in Calgary, Team Canada took on Russia at the four-game exhibition. Early in the second period, shortly after a goal by Joe Hicketts to put Canada up 2-1, Canadian defenseman Jeremy Roy sent a pass up ice to Jared McCann at center ice. McCann turned to receive the pass and didn’t see Russian defenseman Nikita Zhuldikov coming to throw a hit. The result was a massive check:
McCann, a first-round pick, 24th overall of the Vancouver Canucks in 2014, was slow to get up and did not return to the game.
For his part in the hit, Zhuldikov was given a two-minute minor for head contact, which came with a 10-minute misconduct tacked on. He was, however, allowed to remain in the game as soon as the misconduct ended.
Following Zhuldikov’s hit, the tilt between Canada and Russia got chippy. The teams exchanged roughing minors shortly after McCann was knocked out of the game and each team landed a checking from behind penalty and misconduct before the game was through. The two sides combined for 60 minutes of penalties.
The contest ended 4-1 in favor of Canada, with Dylan Strome and Spencer Watson tallying the insurance goals. Russia failed to convert on their power play opportunities, going 0-for-6 on the evening, with Canada notching one goal on seven attempts.
This won’t be the final time Canada and Russia meet during the four-game showcase, so tempers will still have some time to flare. Canada will play the Czech Republic Tuesday evening before a second tilt against the Russian squad on Wednesday. The showcase closes Thursday when Canada faces off against the Czech’s once again.