Anthony Duclair, for Canada, as well as Pavel Buchnevich and Igor Shesterkin, representing Russia, took part in the World Junior Championship Semi Finals yesterday.
Russia faced Sweden for the first match of the day, and Shesterkin, who has taken over the starting job from Islanders' prospect Ilya Sorokin, earned the start yet again. In all honesty, it wasn't Shesterkin's best effort mechanically. He let a few nondescript shots turn into ugly rebounds, and he was overshooting his angles at times, moving too sharply to one side or the other. At the end of the day, though, he did still stop 26 of 27 shots in a 4-1 win. Though those issues are something Benoit Allaire will look to address in the long-term, for now it's good to see that Shesterkin can hang in there and get the job done even on days where he's not at his sharpest.
Buchnevich (wearing #19) did not earn any points in the game. Nobody is going to mistake it for the best performance of his career by any means, but he did have his moments. A lot of focus has been on the finesse play of Buchnevich - his skating, passing, shooting, etc. - so here's something a bit different.
Pure strength from Buchnevich. These are the kinds of plays that make him projectable at the NHL level. Smaller rinks in North America makes the game more dependent on the physical aspect. Buchnevich is similar to Malkin and Jagr in that he has the size and strength to win board battles and hold possession of the puck despite multiple guys pushing and hacking at him.
He did show off his skill later in the game. Check out this pass, and look for the quick turn of his head prior that confirms it was intentional.
Anthony Duclair did manage to get on the scoresheet in Canada's 5-1 win over Slovakia. First came this nice assist off an odd-man rush.
Shea Theodore, 2013 first-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks, scored the goal. Duclair would score one of his own in the third period after missing on a few other quality opportunities. Here he is banking it in off of Slovakian goaltender Denis Godla.
Russia and Canada meet in the final game tonight at 8pm EST. It should be an intense game, and it will be particularly enjoyable for Rangers fans. Duclair and Buchnevich are the two best offensive talents in the system, while Shesterkin is a fun goaltender to watch. All three have been top players for their respective teams and will be relied upon in the finale.