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After a big shootout win over team Sweden, Russia’s U20 came into Sunday’s game with dreams of knocking off the Czech Republic men’s team and having a perfect start to the Karjala Cup.

Sunday’s squad looked a little different as Canucks sixth round pick Dmitri Zlodeyev drew into the lineup as the fourth line centre. He had been playing as the thirteenth forward in the previous two games but Sunday was going to be his shot at making an impression.

Early on, Zlodeyev looked out of place. He constantly looked to be on the wrong side of the ice when a pass was coming and he didn’t have any chemistry with his linemates. His drive on the forecheck was good but once his team gained possession he was not able to find the right spots of open ice to receive passes from his Russian teammates.

Zlodeyev looked a bit more in sync with his teammates in the third period but was not able to get any real scoring chances. His line had possession in the offensive zone for a good percentage of their ice time but they just did not have any chemistry together in Sunday’s game.

Vasili Podkolzin was back doing what we thought he would do.

Putting up points.

He had the primary assist on the third Russian goal as he came flying down the wing before dropping off to his teammate who scored a weird one, but weird ones still count.

This game took a turn in the middle of the second period as things began to get very chippy and the Czech team was frankly just playing dirty.

One of the sparks that lit the flame was when Podkolzin finished a hit sending the Czech player tumbling head over heels.

You can see it on the top left of this GIF.

Late in the third period, we saw Podkolzin get taken down behind the net by a Czech defenceman.

His leg seems to bend it a way it’s not supposed to but I am starting to believe that these kids are made of rubber. If my leg bent that way I’d be crying for my mommy. Podkolzin just took a quick breath and then finished his shift. He would get one more shift late in the game after this mix up.

In the end, Russia’s U20 team won the Karjala Cup.

Their goalie and Nashville Predators prospect Yaroslav Askarov was excellent through and through.

Zlodeyev got a chance to play regular minutes in the final game of this tournament and though he didn’t show well, he didn’t necessarily look out of place. Defensively he looked good but there was just not a lot to be seen in the offensive zone. Zlodeyev finished the game with 11:48 of ice time and will return to Russia with the hopes that he accomplished enough to be invited to the World Junior camp.

As for Podkolzin, he was electric this tournament. He did exactly what we all hoped he would, leading the tournament in points with one goal and four assists in three games. He showed that if given some ice time, he can score big goals and be a key contributor. His coach Igor Larionov believes in him and we will see much of the same at the World Junior Championships that begin on Christmas Day.

Canucks fans should be excited to see what Podkolzin will do this Winter in Edmonton and we should still hold on to the hope that Zlodeyev can slot into the lineup for the tournament. For now, let’s just enjoy this GIF of Podkolzin carrying a trophy.


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