WHL 5 Russia 2
REGINA — The Regina Pats and Portland Winterhawks will meet as opponents next week, but for one night players from both teams joined forces for a big win.
Regina’s Jordan Weal scored the game winner and added an assist to help the Western Hockey League beat Russia 5-2 in Game 5 of the Subway Super Series on Wednesday night.
“There were some jitters in the first shift there but once I got handling the puck a bit they kind of went away,” Weal said. “It was really nice that I got to do it for the home crowd.”
Most of the other offensive firepower came from the Winterhawks. Brad Ross, Ty Rattie and Joe Morrow combined for six points, as forwards Ross and Rattie had a goal and an assist each and defenceman Morrow chipped in with two assists.
“It’s a little bit easier playing with a teammate,” Ross said.
While the Eastern Conference’s Pats and the Western Conference’s Winterhawks don’t see much of each other during the regular season, Ross seemed to fit in nicely with Weal.
“Sometimes you’re not going to make a tape-to-tape pass, you’re not going to know where the guy is, but as the game goes on you kind of figure out each other,” Ross said.
Weal and Ross will have a chance to renew acquaintances next Tuesday, when the Pats travel to Portland for the only regular-season meeting between the teams this season.
Max Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice and Josh Nicholls of the Saskatoon Blades also scored for the WHL.
Bogdan Potekhin and Pavel Medvedev had Russia’s goals.
The Canadian Hockey League leads the series, winning three straight after dropping the first two games. The series wraps Thursday in Moose Jaw, Sask.
Russia started the scoring midway through the first with a pretty goal from Potekhin. After starting the play in his own end, Potekhin ended it with a hard wrist shot through WHL goalie Calvin Pickard. Assisting on the goal were Daniil Apalkov and Bulat Shavaleev.
Nicholls tied the game 1-1, grabbing a loose puck in front and firing it under Russian goalie and fellow Saskatoon Blade Andrey Makarov. Assisting was Zach Franco of the Kelowna Rockets.
Rattie put the WHL up 2-1 with a strange goal. During a power play Rattie lobbed the puck at the net, through a crowd and over Makarov’s shoulder. Weal and Rattie’s Portland teammate Joe Morrow assisted.
The two teams traded a goal each in the second period. Pavel Medvedev forced a turnover in the WHL end then banged in a rebound to tie the game 2-2.
The WHL then struck with its second power play goal of the night. Weal after a scramble in front, pleasing the crowd of 4,501. Morrow and Ross drew assists.
The WHL finished Russia off for good in the third with a pretty short-handed goal from Reinhart and an insurance goal from Ross.
WHL head coach Don Hay was pleased with his team’s effort.
“I thought it was a good game for us. I thought we learned a lot. We got down early, and we battled back and we competed hard in real good areas,” Hay said.
“You learn you can’t relax against the Russians. You have to keep the pressure on them.”
Thursday’s game in Moose Jaw will be the last chance for players to impress Hay before Canada’s final selection camp for the IIHF world junior championship begins in December.
Seattle Thunderbirds goaltender Pickard made 23 stops for the win.
Makarov made 37 saves in defeat for Russia.