Canada, which came into the day with a 22-0 overall record — including three gold medals — since the sport made its FISU Games debut in 2009, lost to a Russian team that features eight Olympians and the current leading scorer in CIS women's hockey, Iya Gavrilova from the University of Calgary.
"I thought it was a pretty good game," said Canadian head coach Jon Rempel of the University of Manitoba. "They're a very good team, and with a group as young as we have with a lot of first-timers here, we battled hard and took the game over at the end. We got stronger in the second half of the game but we just couldn't find the equalizer at the end."
The Russians opened the game with a 2-0 lead after scoring goals in the first and second period. Canada drew within one as Saint Mary's University forward Breanna Lanceleve scored her second of the tournament with eight minutes to play in the third.
Russia cemented the win with an empty-net goal.
Canada finishes pool play with a 1-1 record, while Russia improves to 2-0 and takes top spot in Pool B in the short, four-game tournament. Both teams will play in the semifinals on Wednesday against opponents still to be determined.
Alpine skiers Vincent Lajoie and William Schuessler collected Canada's highest individual performances, finishing fifth and sixth respectively in the men's super combined event.
Lajoie, from Sherbrooke, Que., and Schuessler, from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., had strong runs in the opening event, the Super G, with Schuessler earning fourth place and Lajoie fifth.
In the slalom portion, Lajoie bettered his final standing. Schuessler fell two spots to finish in sixth.
Canada's men's and women's curling teams went undefeated as the men scored wins over Russia and Spain to remain in the medal hunt, while the women recorded a huge win over the host Spaniards to stay perfect in the tournament.
Men's skip Matt Dunstone and his University of Manitoba teammates were facing a must-win situation on Sunday thanks to a 1-3 record. Up against Russian (4-2), Dunstone led his crew to a 9-5 victory. Canada then dominated Spain 11-2 to improve to a 3-3 record.
The Winnipeg-based foursome faces a tough task in undefeated Norway (6-0) on Monday.
"We knew we had to come out big today," said Dunstone. "We knew we were playing one of the best teams at the tournament today, and we had to raise our game to play them. I thought we did a great job as a team stepping up and playing big when we needed to."
In the women's draw, Canada improved to 6-0 with a 16-2 triumph over Spain. Breanne Meakin's Winnipeg team will continue its march to the medal round with games against Norway (3-3) and defending Universiade champion Russia (5-1) on Monday.