3 Takeaways From Game 1 of the CIBC Canada Russia Series

With Game 1 of the CIBC Canada Russia Series in the books we shift our attention to Moncton’s downtown gem the Avenir Centre for the all-important Game 2 vs Team QMJHL and a very good Russian team looking for a Maritime and QMJHL sweep.

Pride will be on the line tonight with Team QMJHL trying to even the score with a very talented Russian Team. Nevertheless, it was a familiar trio that did all the damage for the Russian’s in the Port City.

Khovanov Stole The Show

Alexander Khovanov arrived in the Hub City and the QMJHL three years ago this December under scrutiny and doubt. The young Russian was pegged as another saviour for a Cats team coming off their worst season in franchise history.

It’s been a wild journey to say the least for the highly skilled scoring center.

Khovanov is starting to play inspired hockey and stayed red hot last night versus Team QMJHL

Khovanov along with Egor Solokov and Dmitry Zavgorodniy were dominant every shift out for a Russian team that lacked pace to their overall game.

The QMJHL Russian trio showcased their skill, grit and determination while playing a North American style of game against their Q counterparts.

Khovanov, Solokov and Zavgorodniy got to the inside of the ice and caused havoc for the QMJHL defence corps. Khovanov’s creativity coupled with Zavgorodniy’s speed and Solokov’s tireless work ethic and physicality were exceptional.

One would think that trio would be a shoe in for the Russian World Junior Team, but one never knows.

Another side note to all of this is Khovanov being named captain.

That young man has turned the corner and is playing the best hockey of his career.

One can’t imagine what Khovanov went through being cut from the last years World Junior team after originally making the team and being released two games into the tournament.

Jakob Pelletier Deserves a Chance

The true saviour of the Moncton Wildcats Jakob Pelletier deserves a long look by Hockey Canada. After playing through injury last season during the U-18’s, rumour had it that Pelletier might have hurt his NHL Draft stock and any chance to represent Canada at this years IIHF World Junior Championship. As they say, time heals everything. In my opinion the Moncton Wildcats star winger and Calgary Flames 1st rounder deserves a long look this year and may even find himself pushing for a roster spot on Team Canada.

Pelletier isn’t flashy, he’s not going to over power you, but rest assured he is going to compete and work his ass off every time he steps on that ice.

The diminutive highly skilled forward possesses all the intangibles that it takes to win. Pelletier is an amazing leader and team guy who can play up and down your line up. Doesn’t that sound like someone you would want on your team at a win it all cost pressure packed tournament.

I could see Hockey Canada choosing Pelletier as a 13th forward on this year’s squad. Do I think that he’s a 13th forward, HELL NO.

If there is one aspect that might deter Pelletier’s addition to the Hockey Canada’s World Junior Selection Camp in mid December is the perceived notion that he’s not capable of winning puck battles when it matters most.

I have had the luxury and honour of watching this kid play hockey for the last three seasons. He has done things in all three zones that just leave you shaking your head. Jakob Pelletier is an elite player that if given the opportunity will undoubtedly help Canada win a medal if selected for the team.

Mercer is Next Level

It’s sad, but I’ve never been to Newfoundland.

I don’t even have the slightest clue where Bay Roberts is, but I just Googled it. Nevertheless, I do know one thing Dawson Mercer is putting that town on the map!

The highly skilled speedy center had a dominant performance last night and was all over the puck.

The first time I saw Dawson Mercer play the game was at the QMJHL Gatorade Challenge when he was 15. I was blown away.

He was outstanding!

I never do this, but here’s my scouting report on Dawson.

Dawson Mercer 6” 155 (C/W)

Potentially the most underrated skilled fwd in the draft, dynamic speed does everything at top speed and is relentless in all three zones, needs to get stronger if he wants to play through the middle at the next level. Potential first line centermen in the league as early as 17.

Tons of similarities to Nathan Noel, Great knack to get to the net and he finds a way to be engaged every time he steps on the ice. When other guys were getting tired he kept coming, probably the most fit player at combine weekend, has a great engine that never quits.

Scoring winger/centermen can definitely score at least 15 to 20, but will need time to adapt to the physicality of the league, but if surrounded by other solid line mates could excel as early as next season.

I guess you could say the rest is history!

All Photos by Vincent Ethier/LHJMQ©2019

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