For the most part the ADT Canada/Russia Challenge has been a one-sided affair favoring the Canadians. Every year the Russians would promise to send a competitive team but would get badly beaten.
Even during the preseason challenge between the Russians and Canadian the games were not very competitive as the Canadians made it look like the Russians were in a down year.
So when the Russians said they were sending a competitive team this year few believed them. Imagine the shock that Canadian hockey fans are feeling right now after the Russian Selects defeated Team QMJHL 6-4 in the opening game of this year's challenge.
However from our point of view the game was a success as Ryan Hillier sent a message about his development as a player as he scored a goal and added an assist in the loss.
Hillier's goal was an unassisted one as he used his speed to blow past a Russian defender then went far side to score a goal that allowed Canada to tie the score at 3 to end the 2nd period. While it will not count in his stats for the season, it is a goal that speaks volumes about how much Hillier has improved this season.
Hillier also showed his playmaking skills as he set up his Halifax Moosehead teammate Andrew Bodnarchuk for a goal earlier in the 2nd period. It is another sign that Hillier is having the kind of breakthough season we predicted he would as Hillier for reasons we still have never figured out has been criticized by some Halifax fans for not having more assists.
It will be interesting to see if Hillier gets to play on Wednesday when the series resumes because his play should have earned him a second start for Team QMJHL. Hillier also was not really given much consideration for being named to Team Canada for the World Junior Championships but his play so far this season and his efforts in game 1 of the Challenge makes a strong case for his selection.
Not this week
We were hoping to see Halifax and Michigan both be named as the top ranked teams in both the CHL and NCAA but that will not happen this week.
Michigan though no fault of their own fell one spot in the weekly USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Weekly polls.
No other Ranger prospect's team was ranked.
1 day ago