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World Juniors 2015 Canada vs Russia recap: Ilya Sorokin outplays Zach Fucale for the win

The pre-tournament games begin as teams get set to make final player evaluations and roster cuts.

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*If you're looking for the recap of the gold medal game between Canada and Russia (with a much better result for Canada), you can find that here*

With spots on the final roster on the line, Canada engaged the physical game early. They checked the opponent forwards closely in the neutral zone, not allowing the skilled Russians any space to make the creative plays they're known for.

That physical play went over the line of the officiating standard a few times, with a few late and high hits and a tripping call that went uncalled in the early going. The aggressiveness will need to be refined before the IIHF officials take over once the tournament begins on Boxing Day.

Despite the physical play by the Canadians, Russia was called for the only penalty in the first period on a hooking call behind their own net. The powerplay saw some good puck movement by players constantly moving to get in position to accept passes, and generated four shots as a result. The most impressive player was Max Domi, whose vision and awareness of his teammates position created several good shots on Russian goaltender Ilya Sorokin. Domi had been creating chances all period long, mostly setting up linemate Anthony Duclair for scoring opportunuties.

At four-on-four to begin the second period, Domi's vision paid dividends as he found a net-driving Josh Morrissey with a cross-ice pass in the offensive zone, and the Winnipeg Jets prospect gave Team Canada a 1-0 lead. Morrissey jumped up into the play several times in the second period, looking very impressive on the back end.

Other defencemen didn't fare as well in the middle frame. Madison Bowey was forced to take a penalty after his attacker skated around him. Darnell Nurse later held up his man after he cut back to the middle of the ice and gained position, sending Russia to its second powerplay of the period.

On that man advantage, Zachary Fucale failed to catch the puck on a weak shot, spilling a rebound to Sergey Tolchinsky, who sent a cross-crease pass that was deflected into Fucale's net on an attempted defensive play by a Canadian penalty killer.

Although the score was tied at one goal apiece after two periods, Canada significantly outplayed their international rivals, outshooting Russia 34-11 in the first two periods after the teams were tied with six shots each partway through the first.

Canada didn't let up on the offensive pressure in the third, but Sorokin's spectacular performance never wavered. stopping 50 of 51 shots through regulation.

After an earlier gaffe that caused him to take the penalty that led to the game-tying goal, Nurse had a very good latter half of the game, racing up the ice on a rush on a few occasions and physically separating an attacker from the puck in one of the rare times the Russians gained the offensive zone in the third period.

Nurse had a few more offensive chances early in overtime, but Alexander Sharov would score the game-winner for the Russians off another poor rebound from Zach Fucale.

Canada's next pre-tournament game comes against Sweden on Sunday.