You know the old Russian saying: whenever a national Junior team loses, the headless torso of a Russian oligarch turns up in the Moskva River. Actually wait, that's not a Russian saying at all.
But at the very least, the hometown crowd had to be disappointed with Team Russia's performance in Game 1 of the Super Series, played in Ufa, a small industrial city in the Western Urals that in typical Russian fashion seems to be most famous for horrific disasters more than anything.
Nice win by the National Team, but this was also more of a chance for me to get a first good look at Sam Gagner, the Oilers sixth overall pick in the 2007 draft (what can I say, scouting London Knights broadcasts is out of this blogger's purview, although considering the state of the Oil last season, it may have been a better idea).
Big game for the kid, with a goal and an assist. In addition to a knack for finding open space, Gagner displayed superior in tight puck-handling, scoring on a nifty move that made defender Kiril Tulupov look like a dink. He also seemed to cover lots of the rink, skating back to take a good penalty on a partial Russian breakaway after Canada's defenders made a horrible giveaway in the neutral zone.
At 5'10, you'd expect Gagner to look small on the ice (he'd be the shortest Oiler if he made the team), but at 191 lbs, he isn't exactly scrawny either, which is why it's surprising to seem him get thrown down on the ice so frequently. Facing competition that's twenty pounds heavier and anywhere between 5 inches to a foot taller than him, Gagner won't be an NHLer until he picks up some of that Raffi Torres lower body strength and balance on his legs. But hey, you can't argue with a goal and an assist. The guy looks like a pretty decent prospect.
Meanwhile, the real stars of the game were the Russian lady cheerleaders, who apparently weren't allowed breaks ever.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Posted by mike w at 1:51 PM