As if Team Canada needed another reason to get up for an anticipated New Year’s Eve tilt against the host Russians next week.
Either way, this year’s first overall pick in the NHL draft provided one Monday night.
“I will have to keep a cool head and ignore provocations,” Russia’s Nail Yakupov told R-Sport. “Especially against the Canadians. These guys play dirty. We got used to that, we played a few games in North America, so our team is ready."
Canada opens against Germany on Boxing Day before meeting Slovakia two days later. After a border war against the Americans on Dec. 30, Team Canada meets the Russians a day later in Ufa, Russia – something the Edmonton Oiler said he's prepared for.
“I’m ready for the leading role morally, physically and by all other criteria,” Yakupov said. “I feel great and I’m ready to play my heart out."
Team Russia last captured gold in 2011 when the tournament was held in upstate New York. Still Euphoric from its shock come-from-behind win over the Canadians in the gold-medal game that year, the Russians were famously escorted off an early-morning flight for being “unruly,” according to one Delta spokesperson.