Canada East and Russia battled it out on the second day of the World Junior A Challenge in Whitby, Ontario, with Russia finding a tremendous amount of offense in the final half of the game to take the 6-1 victory on Monday.

The first period was as intense as you’d expect in a game between the two countries. Canada appeared to be the stronger team out of the gate, controlling a lot of the good scoring chances early in the battle. The first good scoring chance of the evening took at the six-minute mark when Lucas Batt dropped the puck to Luc Brown, who fired the shot with great accuracy. Unfortunately for the Trenton Golden Hawks star, Vladislav Sukhachev was ready for the task, making a big glove save to keep things scoreless. Brown, who was the star of the tournament yesterday with a four-point performance against Switzerland, would get another great scoring chance before the period came to a close, but Sukhachev ended up knocking off the net while sliding over, rendering the play dead.

Canada definitely appeared to be the stronger team out of the gate, but the Russians did a solid job by limiting what could be done in close to the net. Displaying a strong defensive style, the team used a combination of poke checks and shot blocks to keep Canada from doing much around Sukhachev in the Russian net, keeping the game scoreless heading into the first intermission.

For a while, it looked like nobody was going to score. That all changed in the second half of the middle frame, however, as back-to-back goals meant that the Russians would take a quick 2-0 lead. Georgii Ivanov would find the back of the net first, spinning from behind the net before roofing the puck over Orangeville Flyers goaltender Nicholas Latinovich, giving the Russians the 1-0 advantage with eight minutes to go in the period. Then, two minutes after that, Artem Ivanyuzhenkov converted on a 2-on-1 chance after tapping in a pass from Viacheslav Shevchenko, extending Russia’s lead to two goals.

Things really fell apart for Canada near the end of the period. After taking a physical beating as a result of being on the bad end of a couple big hits in the period, Mikhail Maltsev jammed in the puck in a wild scramble in front of Latinovich, giving the Russians the big 3-0 lead heading into the final period of play.

With eight minutes to go in the contest, Canada was finally showing some resilient pressure. Newmarket Hurricanes star defenseman Adam Smith would find a way to break Sukhachev’s shutout, using his trademark wrist shot from the point to beat the Russian netminder cleanly and put Canada back in the game. Canada would continue to lay on the pressure, but a mix of incredible goaltending by Sukhachev as well as late markers by Maltsev, Nikolay Kovalenko and Dmitrii Alekseev meant that the Russians would hold on for the 5-1 victory.

With the victory, the Russians can clinch the top spot in Group A with a victory over the Swiss on Tuesday night at 7:00 pm in Whitby. Canada will have to wait until afterwards to figure out their quarter-final match-up as a loss meant that the team would miss out on a bye to the next round.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

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