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Yakupov's Russia Ready for Junior Hockey Champs

20:20 24.12.2012 (Last updated 20:32 24.12.2012)

IIHF World U20 Championship | Canada U20 | Russia U20 | Ryan Nugent-Hopkins | Nail Yakupov
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MOSCOW, December 24 (R-Sport) – Russia and Canada go into the 2013 world junior hockey championships starting Wednesday in the Russian city of Ufa as the main favorites for gold.

The old rivals have captured eight out of the last 11 titles between them, and all the signs are there that normal service will be resumed after last year's shock win by Sweden.

The Swedes are depleted by injuries to several key players, while full-strength Russia is led by NHL No. 1 draft pick Nail Yakupov and Canada by center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, two of the world's top emerging talents.

“Of course, I’m ready for the leading role morally, physically and by all other criteria,” Yakupov said.

“I feel great and I’m ready to play my heart out."

Adding a tantalizing edge to the rivalry, Yakupov and Nugent-Hopkins will both suit up for the Edmonton Oilers once the NHL lockout is resolved.

“As I grew up, I always dreamt of playing at the junior world championships," said Nugent-Hopkins. "Now I have a unique opportunity to play here.”

Yakupov, 19, is still to prove himself worthy of the biggest league in the world, while Nugent-Hopkins already has a season under his belt, notching up 52 points in 62 games.

Their teams are in Group B along with Germany, Slovakia and the United States, which failed to make it past the group stage last year.

Russia and Canada clash on New Year's Eve in a game that could go a long way to deciding which goes directly into the semifinals as group winner, and which finishes second or third and must negotiate the quarterfinals.

Yakupov is ready for anything come December 31.

"I understand that I will have to keep a cool head and ignore provocations. Especially against the Canadians. These guys play dirty. We got used to that, we played a few games in the North America, so our team is ready."

The Swedes will be favorites to win Group A but must contend with a stiff challenge from Finland and the Czech Republic. Switzerland and Latvia complete the group.

The final is scheduled for the January 5 at the 8,000-capacity Ufa Arena belonging to KHL team Salavat Yulaev.

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See also: Russia U20 | Nail Yakupov

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  1. ddanter@rogers.comddanter@rogers.com


    22:54 25.12.2012

    One only has to look at the Canada-Russia Challenge from last summer. The Russian team actually had a few more penalties than Canada, but more telling are the type of penalties that Russia took; hitting to the head, slashing and roughing. Poor little whiny Nail. You are just shooting your mouth off to try to influence the refs before the tournament starts. Also, think back to last year's WJHC semi-final. The Russians ran the Canadian goalie, knocking him out of the game, and then a Russian defenseman gave a head shot to Boone Jenner, precipitating a spear. Of note, was the fact that the Russian defenseman was not removed from the game. It seems that the Russians are also capable of dirty play


  2. ddanter@rogers.comddanter@rogers.com

    Subway Super Series

    23:06 25.12.2012

    Take a look at the penalties from the Subway Super Series. Nail had several roughing penalties and it seems that the most popular Russian penalty was "hitting from behind". I respect the Russian team and their style of play, but Nail is being a hypocrite when he talks about the Canadian team being dirty. We have a saying in North America; look who is calling the kettle black. Nail, you are just as dirty as any Canadian player.


  3. ddanter@rogers.comddanter@rogers.com

    At It Again

    18:40 26.12.2012

    Nice hit to the head by Yarullin that was not called. Dirty and dangerous Russian play again.


  4. ddanter@rogers.comddanter@rogers.com

    Yak a lot 2

    20:44 26.12.2012

    Did Yakupov play today? Did not notice him on the ice. Also, interesting to note that Yarullin was not called for an obvious dirty play (hit to the head) in the first period and he scores the game winner. He should have been tossed from the game. Also noted a lot of cross checks not called against Russia. They have a very good team, so not sure why they have to play so dirty?