- © RIA Novosti. Alexei Kudenko
© RIA Novosti. Alexei Kudenko
UFA, Russia, December 30 (R-Sport) - The eyes of the world will be on Russia and Canada’s under-20 national teams when they face off on New Year’s Eve, Russia’s Edmonton Oilers wing Nail Yakupov said Sunday.
Both teams are unbeaten and have already qualified for the playoffs, but the winner of the Russia-Canada game will take an automatic semifinal berth and force its defeated rival into a quarterfinal spot.
“Everyone’s going to be watching this match. It’ll be interesting and fun,” Yakupov said. “I think the whole world will be watching this match.”
Yakupov vowed he and his teammates would keep their nerves under control.
“We’ll go out and play as best we can, we’ll play calmly and do everything that depends on us,” he said.
Yakupov’s career spans the two countries, having lived in Canada for two years before returning to Russia to play in the KHL for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk during the lockout.
Edmonton selected him as the NHL’s No. 1 draft pick in June, making him only the third Russian ever to achieve the honor and the first since Alex Ovechkin in 2004.