After being scratched in game one of the Canada-Russia Challenge, Nashville Predators prospect Brendan Leipsic was ready to make his mark on the ice in Yaroslavl, Russia. Leipsic was on the fourth forward line for Canada in game two along with Lukas Sutter and Tom Wilson. The line on which Leipsic found himself is not a line that one would expect to produce much offense but rather energetic and physical play. Canadian Coach Steve Spott wanted his team to set the tone early, so he sent that fourth line out against Russia’s top line, featuring 2012 first overall pick Nail Yakupov, for the opening faceoff. Even before the drop of the puck, Leipsic was gettting in Yakupov’s face and making sure he knew he would not be as comfortable in game two as he was in game one in which he tallied a goal. Leipsic continued to mix it up with the future Russian superstar after an icing that ended that same shift.
After a scoreless 1st period, play opened up in the 2nd period as it did in game one. Midway through the period, Russia led 2-1. Leipsic, trying to get his team’s energry up, finished a big check on Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Nikita Nesterov. Nesterov, who has four inches and 20 pounds on Leipsic, didn’t appreciate the gesture and a scrap ensued. The Preds prospect did not back down from the bigger opponent as is his nature to never do so. An actual fight did not occur due to the fact that fighting results in a far more severe punishment in international play than it does in juniors. However, all you have to do is go to Leipsic’s hockeyfights.com page to see that he would have held his own. Leipsic was handed a double-minor for roughing and charging, while Nesterov got a minor for roughing.
The Preds’ 2012 third round draft pick is known more as an energy guy but is certainly not inept on the offensive end as he put up 58 points in 65 games in the WHL last season. His line produced the goal that brough Canada within one goal in the 3rd period and generated sustained offense throughout the game. Leipsic, the lone Nashville prospect in the Canada-Russia Challenge, is equated by many to former Pred Scott Nichol. He’s a speedy, energetic guy who truly does not realize that he is a smaller player. He can light the lamp when needed and he has awesome hockey hair. I can definitely see him having a chance to crack the big boy lineup in Nashville in a few years. He can be a fan favorite, like Jordin Tootoo was, because of his style of play. Perhaps, the Canada-Russia Challenge will not be the last time we see Brendan Leipsic mix things up with Nail Yakupov and other NHL stars. The next couple of years, including the upcoming World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia, will be telling of his future in the Nashville Predators organization.
Russia came out on top 6-3 to even up the challenge one game to one. The teams return to action for the third game of Canada-Russia Challenge on Monday at 5:30 EDT.