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Summer Hockey: Canada U20 vs. Russia U20 Challenge

Hey Nail, quit enjoying the sun and get in the rink already!  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Hey Nail, quit enjoying the sun and get in the rink already! (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Competing for your eyeballs with the Olympics is this rather modest summer series of the forever international hockey rivals, Canada and Russia. To be honest, I'm not quite ready for such a grand occasion in early August, but here it is... some of the best junior hockey talent on a big stage.

Russia enters this as pseudo-favourites... they've been the better team at each of the last two World Junior Championships and boast the incredible Nail Yakupov-Mikhail Grigorenko connection. Well, they are pseudo-favourites until you take a look at Canada's roster and realize last year's bronze medallists can counter that with Jonathan Huberdeau-Ryan Strome and then hide talents like a potential top 5 pick next year in Hunter Shinkaruk in a depth role. And then there's that defence... with three or four players that could potentially be in the NHL this fall.

This one's for glory, and it's also a nice return of top level hockey to the city of Yaroslavl. The players paid tribute to the victims of last year's tragic plane crash and now they'll pay tribute by playing the game.

Hopefully this series goes better than it did five years ago, when a couple of weak Russian U20 years were exposed by a top of their game Canadian squad that routed the Russian team in an eight game yawner.

Canadian Roster Russian Roster

Puck drop is at 11 AM EST, and is broadcast on TSN2 in Canada. Hopefully I can catch the game at some point tomorrow and offer a good recap.

Meanwhile, in Lake Placid, New York, the USA are having their summer National Junior Evaluation Camp with a Swedish and Finnish team joining them as well. The United States of Hockey is definitely your place to follow that action.