By: Josh Sweetland/CHL
Owen Sound, ON – Los Angeles Kings prospect Spencer Watson (Kingston Frontenacs) scored twice while Mackenzie Blackwood (Barrie Colts) made 25 saves to record the shutout as Team OHL effectively silenced Russia with a 3-0 victory in Game 3 of the CHL Canada Russia Series in Owen Sound on Thursday.
Ottawa 67’s forwards Travis Konecny and Dante Salituro were held off the scoresheet, though Konecny recorded four PIMs, two of which came from a confrontation with Russian winger Semyon Afonasevsky.
Blackwood becomes the first OHL goaltender since Trevor Cann in 2006 to record a shutout over 60 minutes in the event as the CHL takes a commanding 9-0 lead in points heading into Game 4 on Monday in Windsor.
“I had a great team in front of me and they really kept things simple, clearing rebounds and keeping Russia to the outside,” said Blackwood. “This game is kind of a testament to their strong play as well.”
With Hockey Canada looking on, Blackwood came up with several timely saves to keep the OHL in control of the momentum throughout the night.
“Obviously this isn’t the end all and be all of the evaluation process,” Blackwood added. “But it’s nice to put in a strong performance here tonight.”
With a pair of Team WHL victories on Monday and Tuesday, the win marks the first time since 2009 that the CHL has won the first three games of the CHL Canada Russia Series.
Team OHL got to work quickly on Thursday as it took Watson just 34 seconds to beat Maxim Tretiak on the first shot of the game. The crafty winger pulled up at the top of the right circle, ripping a release past the blocker of the Russian goaltender to give the OHL an edge in front of a capacity crowd in Owen Sound.
Some timely saves from Blackwood a few shifts later helped the OHL kill off a two-man disadvantage before Arizona Coyotes first round draft selection Dylan Strome added some welcomed insurance in the final minute of the frame.
Strome was given ample time and space to pick his spot with nine seconds left on the clock, pinpointing the back of the net over the shoulder of Tretiak as he slipped in past the top of the circle.
The OHL outshot Russia 13-10 in a fast-paced, competitive first frame.
Blackwood was at the top of his game in the second as the OHL killed off a pair of penalties in the opening half. The Barrie Colts netminder provided one of his biggest saves of the night on a Kirill Pilipenko breakaway, turning aside a low shot from the Russian forward with seven minutes to go.
The two goaltenders swapped saves in the final five minutes of the second.
Blackwood turned away Daniil Vovchenko as the slippery winger found a lane to the net off the half boards, attempting to beat Blackwood’s left pad to no avail. Tretiak proved equal to the task a shift later with dual denials of 17 year-olds Michael McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads) and Taylor Raddysh (Erie Otters) on chances off the rush.
Team OHL would get to Tretiak before time ran out though. Watson buried his second of the night on a rebound inspired by Thomas Schemitsch’s (Owen Sound Attack) point shot 20 seconds before the Russians could escape the second.
The OHL led 3-0 after 40 minutes, outshooting Russia 24-19.
Blackwood’s stellar play continued into the early stages of the third as the New Jersey Devils prospect flashed the leather on a Semyon Afonasevsky spin-around wrister in the opening shift.
Tretiak provided a pair of big saves off Vince Dunn (Niagara IceDogs) and Dante Salituro (Ottawa 67’s) at the other end to keep his club within three.
Russian coach Valery Bragin called a timeout with six minutes to play in an effort to rally his club, but a solid defensive effort from Team OHL kept the Russians largely to the perimeter as Blackwood was perfect the rest of the way to secure the victory.
Team OHL outshot Russia 36-25, going a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill with some big shot blocks and timely saves from Blackwood contributing to the end result.
“Anytime you can come out and play in these exciting games in front of Hockey Canada it’s a great feeling,” said Watson after the win. “The two goals are nice and all but it was a great time to play for Team OHL and I thought we all played well.”
Watson, who is one of four players who will play in both OHL games, played alongside Kingston Frontenacs teammate Lawson Crouse as well as Erie Otters captain Dylan Strome who had a goal and an assist in the game.
“My linemates were a huge part of my game tonight and we had great chemistry right from the first shift. I know Crouser pretty well and Strome is a great player who knows how to adapt and make the guys around him better, so it was a fun experience.”
Game 4 of the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series shifts to the WFCU Centre in Windsor on Monday as standouts Mitchell Marner (London Knights), Michael Dal Colle (Oshawa Generals) and Brendan Perlini (Niagara IceDogs) slot into the Team OHL lineup.
Monday’s action can be seen live from Windsor on Sportsnet 360 at 7:00pm ET.
2015 CHL Canada Russia Series
Game 1 – Monday, November 9 at Kelowna, BC – WHL wins 7-3
WHL Player of the Game – Collin Shirley (1G, 3A)
Russia Player of the Game – Artur Lauta (1G)
Game 2 –Tuesday, November 10 at Kamloops, BC – WHL wins 4-2
WHL Player of the Game – Jayce Hawryluk (1G, 1A)
Russia Player of the Game – Maxim Tretiak (35 SV)
Game 3 – Thursday,November 12 at Owen Sound, ON – OHL wins 3-0
OHL Player of the Game – Mackenzie Blackwood (25 SV)
Russia Player of the Game – Kirill Pilipenko
Game 4 –Monday, November 16 at Windsor, ON
Game 5 – Tuesday, November 17 at Rouyn-Noranda, QC
Game 6 – Thursday, November 19 at Halifax, NS
Click here for CHL Canada Russia Series Photo Galleries
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For news, roster information and ticket details, please visit canadarussia.chl.ca.