After a game that only proved that chemistry can be built from the ground up in an hour, it was Team OHL who led the way on Thursday in the second leg opener of the CIBC Canada Russia Series. Following goals from Connor McMichael, Cole Perfetti, Akil Thomas and Ty Dellandrea, it allowed the Canadian youngsters to walk off the ice with a 4-1 victory over the Russian National Team.

After the game which saw Quinton Byfield named star of the game for Team OHL, I caught up with the Sudbury Wolves centreman to discuss the overall experience and his contribution to the effort. With that in mind, when speaking about the roster made up of league all stars, he said, “There was a lot of skill out there and we found chemistry early on in the game and it just clicked for us throughout the whole game. Additionally, when discussing the game plan which saw the Newmarket native shifted over to the wing, Byfield said of the change made by Dale Hunter, “Yeah, no, it was a cool experience, I haven’t played the wing in a couple years. Not until, from my minor hockey days, but it’s always good to try new positions and get a new feel for everything.”

Byfield, who is projected to go second overall in this year’s draft, is in his second season with the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves and when asked if his goal was to show that he can play at an equal level as the 19-year-old’s on Russia, he said, “Yeah, definitely. I tried battling down low in the corners, showing my strength, putting my stamp on the game. I’m just trying to show a lot of you that I can play with the older guys and that I’m ready for the next step.”

Terry Wilson/OHL Images

The Puck Authority also caught up with Jamie Drysdale, Erie Otters defensemen, and when asked how it felt to get something done with an assist added early on in the win, he said, “Yeah, I think it was a pretty good night for us, good first game. There were things we did really well, at the same time, there’s always things you can work on, so I think for myself as well as the team, we got better, we’ve got better to give, but I think it was a good first game.”

Drysdale, a top NHL prospect who is eligible for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, was also asked about the Canadian support that showed up in masses on Thursday night in Kitchener and when speaking about what that meant to not only himself, but the team in general, he said, “Yeah, typically when I’m in this building, it’s mainly boos, but to have this crowd, this loud crowd on our side was huge, I think the energy was there, everything was there for us to build momentum, so it was an awesome night.”

Lastly, The Puck Authority spoke with Cole Perfetti of the Saginaw Spirit who said when asked how it felt to get something done with a goal in the win on Thursday night over Russia, “Yeah, it was good, it was nice making an impact on the game. I thought they played pretty strong and you know, to get on the scoreboard and throw one in there, it was nice to play in front this crowd and be able to do that.”

Terry Wilson/OHL Images

To hear the three interviews in full, the audio from Thursday night’s media availability at The Aud can be found using the links attached below:

BONUS: The Puck Authority also spoke with Dale Hunter, Team OHL head coach, following his team’s 4-1 win and when asked about the adjustment of centreman such as Quinton Byfield being moved to the wing, he said, “Well, you know, you’ve seen I moved the centreman around a bit to try centre and wing just so you know, maybe, you know, I need you on the wing, you know, so you’re able to play wing or your able to play centre, so if you’re versatile, it’s a bonus.”

When asked about the performance of Ryan Merkley on Thursday night, Hunter said in a short and sweet statement, “He played well. Merkley played really well, you know, he moved the puck and made some good passes. He played his game and you know, I thought the D played very solid, all the D played solid.”

Hunter was also asked about being an opposing young goaltender facing Connor McMichael and when speaking about the London Knights centreman and the abilities that he brings to the table, the longtime OHL executive said, “Yeah, he’s got a deceptive shot and he can, it comes off his stick different and that’s how he gets his goals all the time.”

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To hear the postgame media scrum in full, the audio from Thursday night’s media availability at The Aud can be found using the link attached below:

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