Team OHL took a decidedly Team Canada approach to Game 4 of the SUBWAY Super Series in Windsor on Monday and the results were impressive.
The OHL squad set a physical tone early that they maintained throughout the game and relied on Plymouth Whalers goaltender Matt Hackett to put in an outstanding performance in net. They also threw in a substantial amount of offensive spark for good measure to cruise to a 5-2 win over Russia.
The win was the OHL’s second in the series after an identical score victory over Russia in Barrie on Thursday and maintained their perfect record in the seven-year history of the series.
“We’re in the business of winning,” OHL coach Dave Cameron of the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors said. “You never want to lose no matter what game you are playing. We’re the only league that hasn’t been beaten yet so yeah, we’re proud of that.”
Hometown hero Taylor Hall of the Windsor Spitfires and Nazem Kadri of the London Knights each had a goal and an assist to pace the OHL’s offence.
Adam Henrique of the Spitfires opened the scoring midway through the first period. Tyler Toffoli of the Ottawa 67’s added his second of the series on a powerplay midway through the second period and then Hall counted on the powerplay for what proved to be the game-winner.
Kadri added a short-handed marker early in the third period to push the OHL lead to four before Kirill Petrov snapped Hackett’s shutout bid with a little under six minutes to go in the game. Maxim Kitsyn also scored for Russia before Zack Kassian of the Peterborough Petes rounded out the scoring with a powerplay goal with 1:29 left to go.
Veterans like Kassian, Stefan Della Rovere of the Barrie Colts and Zac Rinaldo of the London Knights supplied the physical presence for Team OHL, putting a lot of pressure on the Russians in their own end of the ice.
“You want to do that to be successful,” Kassian said. “We had some pretty big hits out there and won a lot of battles on the ice. They are very skilled and if you don’t finish your checks on the next thing you know it’s in the back of your net. You try to eliminate space and eliminate them as much as you can.”
Hackett turned aside 30 of the 32 shots he faced and may have used that performance to earn an invite to Canada’s final selection camp before the World Junior Championships next month.
“I thought he was excellent,” Cameron said. “It’s great as a coach with Team Canada to see him play. It gives me a chance to get a look at him prior to the selection camp. He handled himself really well tonight.”
The OHL was three-for-eight on the powerplay while Russia was one-for-six.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)