Harvey, defence shine as Team QMHL defeats Team Russia
Defence was the name of the game in Charlottetown as Team QMJHL grinded out a 3-1 victory over Team Russia in the fifth installment of the 2017 CHL Canada-Russia series.
Shaun Boudrias, Drake Batherson, and Nicolas Guay scored for the Q, while Andrey Altybarmakyan added the lone Russian goal.
Samuel Harvey was nearly impenetrable in this game, stopping 25 shots in the win. His counterpart at the other end, Alexey Melnichuk, stopped 21 of 23 shots.
Boudrias opened the scoring on the powerplay for the home team. The former Charlottetown Islander collected the puck off the faceoff in the offensive end, evaded a Russian defender, and drove to the net before snapping the puck over the glove hand of Melnichuk.
The Russians answered just three minutes later. Attempting to corral an errant pass from defence partner Thomas Gregoire, Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Zachary Lauzon turned the puck over at the red line leading to a 2-on-1. Harvey managed to save the initial shot from Alexey Polodyan, but had no chance on the rebound from Altybarmakyan, Russia’s player of the game. Neither Lauzon or Gregoire could pick up the speedy Chicago third-rounder in transition.
Named the player of the game for Team QMJHL, Harvey turned away a number of high-quality opportunities throughout the game, including a beautiful sprawling cross-crease pad stop leading to a wild scramble in front, inevitably preserving the tie heading in to the third.
Team QMJHL finally broke the deadlock early in the third. Saint John Sea Dogs captain Joe Veleno worked the puck down low to Maxime Comtois, who made a great power move to get the puck on his forehand and get a shot away. Melnichuk stopped the initial shot, but no defender picked up Cape Breton Screaming Eagle forward Drake Batherson, who potted the rebound.
Guay buried an empty-netter late to seal the victory for the boys in red.
Defence played a huge part in the victory for Harvey. The Rouyn-Noranda netminder credits them with keeping the front of the net clear for him to make the necessary saves.
“The defence played great” said Harvey. “They blocked shots, they cleared the rebounds out, and they were the real MVP’s”
Appearing to have total composure in the crease, Harvey said he felt the nerves heading in to this one.
“In the first period I was shaking a little bit, but after a couple of minutes I was good.” said Harvey. “I just played my game the best that I could, and it went well.”
The defense stood tall for the Q in this game. They played the Russian forwards aggressively in the neutral zone to prevent controlled entries, and it worked. Often times a Russian forward was parked at the offensive blueline to create more room for the other four players on the ice, but Team QMJHL read it well and were able to limit major opportunities.
Playing in front of his home crowd, Charlottetown Islanders captain Pierre-Olivier Joseph spear-headed the defensive play in this one. The Arizona Coyotes first-rounder played his usual calm and collected game from start to finish, reading plays well and doing an excellent job to keep attacking Russian forwards to the outside and away from high-danger areas.
Joseph not only saw ice time in all situations, but also with a number of different partners. For some, this could be daunting, especially when playing with all new teammates. Joseph appeared to adapt easily, saying it came down to communication.
“All of these defenceman are really good hockey players; it’s really easy to play with them” said Joseph.”We just have to talk.”
“It’s different, it is a new team, but I think we did great everytime we were played with somebody new.”
The series now moves to Moncton for the final game of this cross-Canada series. CHL teams now hold a slight advantage at 3 games to 2.
Photo: Vincent Ethier/QMJHL Media