Brent Sutter was in his easy chair Monday evening, getting another look at Team Russia in a televised Subway Super Series game against Team OHL at Sudbury.
The Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach will view the Russians from a much closer vantage point Wednesday when the visitors are at the Centrium to take on Team WHL at 7 p.m. Sutter will handle head-coaching duties for the WHL squad for Wednesday’s contest and the final game of the Super Series Thursday at Lethbridge.
As the head coach of the Canadian team for the 2014 World Junior Championship Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Sweden, Sutter took in the first three Super Series games last week — 3-2 and 4-3 wins for Team QMJHL in Gatineau and Sherbrooke, Que., and a 5-2 victory for the Russians over team OHL in Oshawa. He’s using the Series as a scouting tool in regards to the players who will be invited to the Canadian team’s final selection camp next month.
The Team WHL players were scheduled to arrive in Red Deer at 1 p.m. today. A team photo session is set for 4 p.m. at the Centrium and the squad will return to the ice for a 4:15 p.m. practice session.
Sutter intends on having his players prepared for a highly-talented Russian contingent, which he estimates will feature roughly half of the players who will suit up for the Russian entry in the WJC.
“They probably have six to seven players who are currently in the Kontinental League who will be on their national team, plus the players they have in the OHL have really helped them in this series, and you know those players will be on their world junior team,” said Sutter, in reference to Nikolay Goldobin of the Sarnia Sting, Aleksandar Mikulovich of the Niagara IceDogs and Sergey Tolchinsky of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
“They’re a team that works hard and they certainly have some good skill.
“The first two games were really close and then they won the third game. They have a pretty good team that can make plays, and their goaltending is really good. We’ll have to be well prepared to play them.”
Team Russia includes four players who were selected by QMJHL teams in the CHL import draft as well as the three in the OHL. Meanwhile, Alexander Delnov of the Seattle Thunderbirds and Saskatoon Blades forward Nikita Scherbak will be on the Team Russia roster for the Red Deer game and Kootenay Ice defenceman Rinat Valiev will draw in for the contest in Lethbridge.
Edmonton Oil Kings forward Curtis Lazar will serve as the Team WHL captain Wednesday and Kootenay forward Sam Reinhart will wear the ‘C’ in Lethbridge. Portland Winterhawks forward Nicolas Petan and Prince Albert Raiders rearguard Josh Morrissey will be assistant captains for both games, while Oil Kings defenceman Griffin Reinhart will wear an ‘A’ at the Centrium and Kelowna Rockets blueliner Damon Severson will be a third assistant captain in Lethbridge.
l Rebels forward Matt Bellerive was on crutches Monday after suffering a knee injury late in Saturday’s 5-1 win over the visiting Prince George Cougars. He will see an orthopedic specialist today.
“I’m sure they will recommend he have an MRI and I don’t see him playing any time in the near future,” said Sutter.
Bellerive joins forwards Grayson Pawlenchuk and Christian Stockl — both out indefinitely — on the club’s injury list.
The Rebels return to action Friday against the host Medicine Hat Tigers, then travel to Swift Current for a Saturday date with the Broncos.