Game 2 of the Canada Russia Series went last night, with the WHL taking down Team Russia 4-1. It was a fiery tilt and you could tell there was some bad blood built up from their game the previous night. A few jabs after the whistle and some high intensity scrums.
The game got off to a rather sloppy start in my opinion and you could tell both these teams played last night. Russia was less sloppy in the first as I felt they held the play for most of the opening frame.
Canada brought a much better game in last two periods and so did Russia. The quality of the game got better and we got a chance to see what some of these prospects are really made off.
With all that being said, here are my brief thoughts on the prospects that caught my eye last night:
The 6’2 first round pick of the Montreal Canadiens was wearing the ‘C’ for Team WHL last night and he did not disappoint. Scouts have raved about his skating and that’s what stood out for me. Not even so much pure speed, but he’s a very efficient skater, it seems effortless. One play that stood out was in the 3rd period when he pinched in and created a scoring chance then Russia turns up ice for what should be a odd man rush and it seemed like I blinked and Juulsen was back in position already.
The knock on his game is his discipline and defensive positioning. He didn’t take a penalty and I didn’t notice any glaring mistakes in his own end. Juulsen played close to a perfect game in my eyes and it’s clear that the Canadiens have a real gamer with the Abbotsford, BC product.
I love Merkley’s game and I was high on him coming into this game. I wasn’t originally going to bother mentioning him in this list because he didn’t really surprise me, he played exactly as I thought Nick Merkley would play. The biggest asset to his game has always been his vision and passing and he showed that with a sweet cross ice pass across his body to set up Noah Juulsen.
Merkley might be 5’11 but he plays with more of an edge than some give him credit for. All you have to do is look at that one goal and you can see him win a puck battle then fight off a defender to work his way out from behind the net. A great game from Merkley, but like I said, it didnt really really surprise me, but confirmed what I have already seen with Merkley.
Connor Hobbs was wearing #44 and I saw some nice things out of him. Some pretty blatant errors, but I liked his ability to get pucks through.
Tyler Benson put up 3 points in the rink that he will (hopefully) one day be an NHL regular in. The Oilers prospect proved why some scouts thought he was a first round pick. The Oil got an absolute steal in the second round.
Ty Ronning was buzzing. Size isn’t an issue for guys like Merkley and Ronning and the 5’9 forward proved that last night in my eyes. He wasn’t scared of the corner, he skated well. A good game for the Burnaby native.
I wanted to be wow’ed by Nolan Patrick and I just wasn’t. He was good, but for a consensus first overall pick in next years draft, I expecting a little more.
This was my first time ever seeing Cal Foote play. I had heard so much about him and you look at him and he’s an absolute monster. The 17 year old is listed at 6’4 and 210 pounds. He didn’t really standout for me, nothing special last night, but still the Adam Foote connection and his size has me wanting to make the effort to watch him a few times this year. Seems like just an off night.