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Despite SO loss to Russia, Canada earns top of U18 group

The Canadian Press

4/22/2014 4:52:00 PM

IMATRA, Finland -- Canada lost more than just its final preliminary-round game at the world under-18 hockey tournament Tuesday.

Kirill Pilipenko scored in the shootout to earn Russia a 3-2 win over Canada, the defending champions' first defeat at the event. But the Canadians also lost forward Brayden Point to an upper-body injury in the first period that's expected to sideline him for the reminder of the tournament.

Russian Danil Vovchenko drove Point head-first into the boards at 7:23 of the first. Vovchenko received a five-minute major for checking from behind and a game misconduct on the play.

"That's a huge loss for our side," Canadian team coach Kevin Dineen said. "He's a big part of so many facets of our game.

"He plays on both of our special teams and centres the top line. He's a big loss but that's the advantage, we have other people to fill roles."

Point had an assist in Canada's four preliminary-round games but the five-nine, 160-pound Calgary native recorded 36 goals and 55 assists in 72 games this season with the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors.

Pilipenko scored on Russia's first shot of the shootout against Canadian goalie Mason McDonald. But it was all the offence the Russians needed as Canada's Conner Bleackley, Jared McCann and Jake Virtanen all couldn't beat goalie Alexander Trushkov.

Trushkov replaced Maxim Tretiak, the grandson of legendary Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretiak, to start the shootout.

"That's tournament hockey," Dineen said. "Obviously we're disappointed it ended like that but you take a breath, look at the big picture and say our team earned points in all four games and finished first in our side of the pool."

Vladislav Kamenov's power-play goal with 35 remaining in regulation forced overtime.

Mathew Barzal and Travis Konecny scored for Canada (3-0-0-1, 10 points), which still finished atop Group A despite the loss. The Canadians will resume tournament action Thursday in a quarter-final game against Switzerland.

Ivan Nikolishin had the other goal for Russia (1-0-2-1, eight points), which needed a win in regulation over Canada to finish first in Group A.

Konecny opened the scoring at 1:49 of the second period before Nikolishin replied just 27 seconds into the third. Barzal put Canada ahead 2-1 at 7:40 before Kamenov converted on the man advantage at 19:25.

Dineen, who led the Canadian women's team to Olympic gold in Sochi, Russia, said he was pleased with his team's defensive play against Russia, especially with the man advantage. The Russians finished 1-for-5 on the power play.

"I really give our guys credit . . . they came out and guys were blocking shots, making plays along the boards," Dineen said. "I give the Russians a lot of credit, they really did a good job with their possession game and created a lot of chances.

"Obviously your goaltender has to be extremely large and Mason played a whale of a game for us."

McDonald likely earned himself the start for the Canadians in the quarter-final game. He stopped 29 shots as Russia outshot Canada 31-25.

"Mason McDonald was the player of the game," Dineen said. "I think it's going to be pretty hard for us to pull away from him.

"He played a heck of a game."