Young Stars Tourney Kicks Off The "Season"

Bruce Bennett

Not the actual season. We're about two weeks from the pre - season opener on the 16th, but this tourney has become the "soft launch" of our Provincial Obsession. Penticton gets to look pretty, Young Stars get to dream of where the next step will lead them, to the East Coast AHL, or The Show on the West Coast, and we get to look at the new talent that came from the summer's "events" ( I hear we traded a guy and there was some other talk about the goaltending. No biggie though... ) and sort of lean into the season with the very best part of any fan's obsession. The future is always brightest when it is unclouded by reality!

Rookies. draftees, prospects, and invitees all descend on the Okanagan this week, as the burgeoning Young Stars Tourney becomes more of a big thing.  This is the third time it has been in the Peach Festival city of Penticton, and as it has grown in competitiveness, the interest has increased exponentially as well.

Of course, for Canuck fans, we have some of our own "bling" this time, to go up against the more well known Top 5 picks the Oilers ( and others, the Jets, Flames, Sharks, will be sending most of their top prospects too ) have sent to Penticton. From 1st timers Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk, to Brendan Gaunce, relative YST "vets" Frank Corrado and Niklas Jensen, ( he was #4 on the Canucks Army Top 20 prospects list...I'm sure you read all those too, right? ;-) amongst  others, there is a reason to get excited.  For the first time in a while, young players are going to be asked to grab the rope and get a pulling.

Sure, the teams in Alberta, especially that media darling in the North of that province,( who knows TSN, SNET, et al. Your prediction of the "breakout season" might happen this year ! If you keep saying it, you never know... #lol ...Easy Oiler fans, that team should be solid ( -ish ) this year ) have drafted higher. Teams at that end of the standings usually do. In fact, as far as these kind of things go, it makes the Oilers the "favorite" on paper in this type of set up.  It also brings a certain dynamic to the competitiveness of the games, even though the results are redundant. No one really worries about that but the players trying to impress.  The rest of us just want to see "how they did". The score does not end up mattering as much as the moments.  How your guys matched up in the various shifts that they got to play.

Let's not forget how Frankie C got it going here before there.  Niklas Jensen, amongst others ( Aaron Volpatti! ) all showed something that got them noticed and onto the ladder up the depth chart. Hell, I if I remember correctly last year, the Stars poached Antoine Roussel off the home teams' negotiation list, and right into the NHL.  4th line, but still.  Chris Tanev was another who first showed his icy cool game in the Peach City, and is another one of 40 players that got their first ice here on their way to the NHL, as the local story that reports on the province wide interest here attests. .

So, without further adieu,  let's get back into it. The late summer vistas from Okanagan Lake will quickly give way to that increasing nip in the air. Soon it will be the perfect temp for that hoodie under the jersey... ( who knows, you migfht even to buy one with a rookies' name on it because he is actually on the team. ) What number is Gaunce again?  Could there actually be an 18 year old on the team this year?

There's tons of links to choose from.  Here's a nice selection to get you back in the mood.

- From the mothership, today's chock full of info look into some of the players herea list of some other team's guys here, and the schedule here.  You'll be able to go to Canucks.com and watch the games as usual. I like the short one here where our new AHL coach drops a line nugget...I'd play Bo "Toews clone" Horvat with Hunter "Kane clone" Shinkaruk too. Get the chemistry experiment going right away. Great Success!

Extra note: The third player on that line will be one David Pacan ( 2009 Hawks 6th rounder who had some very impressive OHL numbers, and decent ECHL production last year before getting nine games in San Antonio) . Now that the team owns its AHL team, that is "our" player signed to an AHL deal...as is one time CBJ 4th round pick, massive 6'6" goalie Mathieu Corbeil ...just saying!   These are spots where a Canuck employee now makes a decision on a player, as opposed to an AHL team's employee who has his own local pressures to produce.

- I get that Jordan Subban went in the 4th round this year.  He's 5'9". But like the story says, maybe he has a growth spurt or two in him!  His Norris wining brother does say he is "better than I was at his age".  Chris Tanev wasn't much younger than PK's little brother when he shot up. It could happen! ( I absolutely love that he says he models his game after noted "smaller defenseman" Brian Rafalski. Yes Please! )

- I have to agree with Jason Botchford ( smart hockey fans usually do! ) here. Frank Corrado has a lot of promise and seems to be the kind of young defenseman Torts could mold into another young stud defenseman.  It's not all bull spittle that the Rangers young defenseman are all signing big deals. ( some nice hints on Brendan Gaunce's drive to make the team in the story too... )

- Eddie Lack is too old for the Young Stars tourney, but in the Bonus Botch' story here ( two JB stories...yeah, hockey is back! ) he looks pretty determined to get to it. Joacim Eriksson IS going to see a bunch of time this coming week though, you would think. The oldest guy at the tourney at 23, this is his chance to, as Nuke Laloosh once said, to "announce my presence with authority".

- He does say all the right things here, telling Elliot Pap that "when the Canucks wanted me to come here, my stomach said that it felt very good...".( something lost in translation perhaps Elliot? ;-)  He seems to understand that the East Coast might be in his immediate future, but the guy has always been lights out once he got to play. The numbers are pretty impressive. He's definitely one guy I'll be watching from those games.

- Another local article, this one with Jordan Schroeder fondly recalling his experience at the tourney. Support your local writers folks.  They all have to start somewhere, just like the players that will be in the Interior this week. This one from the same writer  last week on Hunter Shinkaruk is excellent and informative, You're welcome...and thank you Emanuel Sequeira, well done.

- The Canuck Way's AllenTung gives us a partial list of the Alumni's that will play this Saturday for charity. This is definitely not a harbinger of the stars from he past that will hit the ice at B.C Place in the coming Heritage Classic, but there are some names there, like Dave Babych, Greg Adams, Cliff Ronning, Garry Monahan, Dave Gagner ( awkward...#lol ) Stan Smyl and Thomas Gradin.  My money's on Tommy.  The guy was effortless in his skating style then, and will probably be one of the older, yet faster, guys on the ice. No goalies are announced. I guess that means maybe we'll see "Cheech" John Garrett slap on the pads?

- Si's Stu Hackel knows that hockey is "busting out" with a look at a bunch of the tourney's including the festivities in Penticton.

- The fine folks at Pass It To Bulis once again are highlighting some of the invitees.  This is Part One, ( Part Two is Thursday )..as always, some solid info and links that I now don't have to search out for you. Thanks guys!  Did you know Utica Comet signee Sacha Guimond was a San Fransisco Bull? Hell, I don't know there was such a  team! But now I do, as well as the fact that he's a defenseman with nice size and scoring ability who still wants the NHL badly.  As does invitee Cain Franson of Sicamous, who can definitely score, and Adam de Champlain, who's got some size and snarl, and Mitch Elliot, who has some snarl, and is fricking huge ! Guy's like de Champlain and Elliot ( who scrapped in the recent past ) will be looking to at least force a longer look and maybe an AHL deal like Guimond and Corbeil.  The big goalie will probably be battling Joe Cannata for the back up job in Utica. Update : Here's Part Two from Thursday...

- The mini Mothership ( Mothership Jr ? ) is here...A link you might have missed from last week where Travis Green outlines his coaching style, amongst other things.  That Utica Comets logo is growing on me!

We could go on, searching out more on Jesse Mychan, for instance ( oh, OK, here you go! He's #8, and seems to have a good nose for the net, and definitely likes to hit some too. I like players who know the right time to fill the hole, even if it IS the SJHL. Check the stats here from his time on the Tri City Americans too. You never know, right? Come on and see if you can impress us kid!

- Edit: Two other guys. One ; not on the 31 man list pdf here, and one Alexander Mallet, who is on that list, and will get the chance to show he can move those impressive ECHL numbers ( to the right of each name... ) up to at least AHL ones for the coming year. Two ; Ronalds Kenins , who won't be there, though he is only 22.  Both he and Kellan Lains will get their chance to chow their stuff at the main camp at UBC. ( I don't know how to type them, but the "e" has the line over it, while the s in Kenins has the chevron type thingy. So, I'll want a ruling on the pronounciation from any Latvians ) Kenins hits like this ( looks clean on the replay! ) and has some skill. More for the way he describes his game for us in this video.  Definitely am looking forward to seeing what he can do. ( Bonus edit ;)  Lain's highlights from his time in the AHL with the Wolves. Looks like he did a bit of the things Torts loves, winning draws, blocking shots while having outstanding defensive position on the penalty kill. Needs a bit of finish ( and maybe better players to play with helps. He had 0 goals and points in 13 AHL games while still looking good in what looked to be a mainly 3-4th line defensive face off, penalty killing role. He was about a 1/2 point a game player his last year at Lake Superior State University.  One thing you can't teach is size, and dude looks like he has some skills to go with the  crushing hits ( and decent speed for a big man. Torts is going to love this kid. 6'5" blocks a lot of shots too ) and a piston on the face off.  OK OK...that was three guys.!

That's the way it is at these things. maybe someone like Cole Cassels will get sick of stories like this one ( it's from the draft, so who knows, maybe it's behind that sorta kinda paywall the Vancouver Sun has going on. Click and see! ) where he is going to be "Andrew's boy" to some of the older media here until he steps up and makes them remember his name.  Someone always steps up and overshoots the preconceived "expectation" for that player and grabs a spot at the main camp, or a deal, or something that makes that NHL dream move just a little bit closer.

That's the thing about this tourney, and why I have grown to enjoy it more each year.  It all starts tomorrow with the Alberta kids warming up the crowd ( don't know for certain, but I imagine the team websites will do the same as ours and show their games, if you're THAT desperate! ) for the Canucks' and Sharks' prospects at 7:30 pm. Check Canucks.com for your link to all the fun.

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