From Russia with love
Vancouver Canucks prospect Frankie Corrado has taken his talents to Russia.
No, Corrado has not bolted to the Kontinental Hockey League; the Canucks 5th round pick in 2011 and his Ontario Hockey League club, the Sudbury Wolves, are taking part in the 2nd annual World Junior Club Cup in Omsk, Russia.
The tournament runs from August 18th to the 26th and features eight junior clubs and two national teams from 10 different countries. The Wolves, who are representing Canada, are in a division with HK Riga (Latvia), Linkopings HC (Sweden), HIFK (Finland) and the Denmark National Under-20 team (minus Canucks draftee Nicklas Jensen), the same team that competed in the top division of last year’s IIHF World Junior Championships in Alberta.
Corrado and the Wolves first flew to Moscow and spent some time practicing at the CSKA Ice Palace, home to CSKA Moscow (formerly known as the Red Army team) of the KHL, as well as taking in some sights in Moscow, such as the famous Red Square, home to the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin.
“We saw some of the main attractions in Moscow,” said Corrado, from the team’s hotel in Omsk. “It was pretty cool to see their culture and famous buildings. The architecture was unlike anything you would see in North America, so it was cool to see it in person.”
Before the Wolves flew to Omsk to open the tournament, they played an exhibition game against the Red Army Junior Club. With Corrado and many veterans sitting the game out, the Wolves dropped a 4-2 decision.
Corrado admitted getting used to the major time difference has been a challenge – it’s a 14 hour spread from Vancouver to Russia – but he got it sorted out in time for the tournament opener.
“I think the first five nights I got two hours of sleep every night,” said Corrado. “The last two nights have been great though, got a full eight hours each night.”
On Sunday the Wolves opened up the tournament, and with the help of two assists from Corrado, they delivered a 9-1 shellacking of HIFK, the Junior Champions of Finland just last season.
A fine-tuned stay-at-home defenseman, Corrado is looking to add more to his game this season, including chipping in more offensively, and with the two assists in his first game, he is off to a good start.
“I felt great, just tried to keep it simple and tried to control the puck as much as possible on the big ice,” he said. “The key for me is to add more elements to my game and if I can control the puck as much as possible I can add those elements, I love to touch the puck a lot.”
As for the lopsided result, it’s safe to say Corrado and the Wolves didn’t expect such a result in a tournament like this.
“We’re coming here expecting every team to be great. We don’t know much about the other teams, so we have to play every game like the other team is their league champions, which most of them are.”
Less than 24 hours after their tournament opening win, Corrado and the Wolves hit the ice against HK Riga in what was a much tougher test. With Corrado being ejected in the second period for a major, the Wolves fell 2-1 in a shootout.
Up next for Corrado and the Wolves will be a tilt against the Denmark U-20 team on Wednesday. Corrado will not be in Sudbury’s line-up as he serves a one-game suspension.