Canada-Russia Series makes it’s way to Charlottetown


CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI. – The best the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has to offer will be on display tonight in Charlottetown, as a team of Canadian QMJHL all-stars suits up to take on Team Russia in the fifth leg of the 2017 CHL Canada-Russia Series.

The overall series is currently knotted up at two; Russia took a game a piece from Team WHL and Team OHL. The Russians have been led in scoring by diminutive forward Artyom Manukyan. The 5’7 Avangard Omsk winger is tied with Alexey Polodyan at two goals and two assists.

In goal, Alexey Melnichuk has been a pillar of consistency for the visiting Russians. The SKA St. Petersburg product has posted a .915 SV% and 2.52 GAA in the three games he’s participated in. The 18 year-old has bounced between St. Petersburg’s three different tiers this season, including one game in the KHL. He’s spent the majority of his time in the second tier VHL.

Heading in to this game, look for the Russians to receive a lot of firepower up front. QMJHL forwards Pavel Koltygin, Vitalii Abramov and German Rubstov will join their native country for this leg of the series.

Abramov and Rubtsov should both figure in to the scoresheet immediately; Abramov, the scoring leader for the Q last year, has amassed 25 points in just 16 games with the Gatineau Olympiques this year. He’s been on absolute fire in the month of November, racking up 12 points in just six games.

Rubtsov has picked up the pace since his arrival in Bathurst with the Titan; the Philadelphia Flyers first-round pick has put up two goals and seven points.

On the Team QMJHL side, it looks as if head coach Dominique Ducharme will lean on a group of top draft prospects in the upcoming NHL draft. Four members of the 23-man roster are first-time draft eligible players, including Saint John Sea Dogs forward Joe Veleno. The 17 year-old has lived up to the hype over the last six games, amassing two goals and nine points in that span.

Joining Veleno up front will be a team loaded with heavy artillery, including Anaheim Ducks prospects Antoine Morand and Maxime Comtois, Ottawa Senators prospect and the Q’s leading scorer Drake Batherson, and team captain Peter Abbandonato.

On defense, a lot of eyes will be on Jared McIsaac. Projected by some to be a top-10 pick in 2018, the Halifax Moosehead defender will be joined by Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Zachary Lauzon, who just returned from a lengthy absence last week.

In goal, Samuel Harvey will look to thrust himself to the forefront of Team Canada’s World Junior discussions with a big performance in one of these two games. With one spot already spoken for by the returning Carter Hart, this will be a big stage for Harvey to shine on.

This team will have a distinctly PEI feel for these next two games: Charlottetown Islanders captain Pierre-Olivier Joseph will wear an A for Team QMJHL, while Isles head coach Jim Hulton will be behind the bench as one of Ducharme’s assistants. Summerside native and 2018 draft-eligible Noah Dobson will join Joseph on defense.

It all goes down tonight at 8pm from the Eastlink Centre. The game will also be aired on Sportsnet East, Ontario, and Pacific. It’s sure to be a dandy!