A night after seeing young 2-way centre Jared McCann take a hard, high hit from Russian defenceman Nikita Zhuldikov that knocked McCann out of the Summer Showcase, Canucks fans were treated with their other first round pick of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft -- 6-foot-1, 210 pounder Abbotsford native Jake Virtanen, who took the Canucks took 6th overall after Abbotsford Hawks alumni popped in 41 goals in 2013/14 season with the Calgary Hitman.
Virtanen and Point -- two of the five returning players that helped last year's team take home a gold medal on home ice in Toronto -- are likely locks to make the 22-man roster come December, unless they impress their NHL teams to the point where they don't release them for the tournament. The two combined for 8 of Canada's 21 points in the decisive 7-1 blowout.
Highlights of Virtanen's night can be found below:
Virtanen hit + Virtanen draws a penalty https://t.co/PsKDXd9HhN— Winthagame (@WinThaGame) August 5, 2015
With just under two minutes to go in the first period, Virtanen causes a Czech turnover by flattening defenceman Jakub Zboril -- the Boston Bruins' 13th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft -- which the Canadians recover. The puck ends up on Virtanen's stick and Jake takes it from his own end up the far side of the boards by utilizing his speed and his strong ability to protect the puck. Virtanen's power game is evident as he takes a hit from a Czech Filip Chalpik immediately upon entering the Czech zone, while still maintaining control of the puck. Virtanen then is hit on one-knee while still possessing the puck before trying to dish it back behind him. Chalpik was assessed a roughing penalty for hitting Virtanen in a vulnerable position.
Virtanen's primary assist on Chartier's goal https://t.co/5PRVuNIC6L— Winthagame (@WinThaGame) August 5, 2015
After drawing a penalty on a rugged zone-entry, Virtanen was rewarded by head coach with some time on the man advantage. Virtanen, once again, starts the breakout from his own end, this time going unscathed as he seamlessly enters the Czech zone before finding Kelowna Rocket Rourke Chartier with a crisp, tape-to-tape pass just inside the Czech bluneline. Chartier corralled the puck and blasted one past Czech goaltender to even up the game at 1-1 just before the end of the first frame.
Virtanen's goal to put Canada up 2-1 https://t.co/VtTUVIBYeL— Winthagame (@WinThaGame) August 5, 2015
Jake Virtanen gives Canada the lead after a nice assist by Point pic.twitter.com/avQZZQIz16— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) August 5, 2015
Canada would take the lead 4:09 into the middle stanza, as Brayden Point demonstrated world-class patience by weaving wide before hitting Virtanen for a cross-crease pass. Virtanen made no mistake and capitalized on the easy tap in.
Virtanen deke https://t.co/xTA4dk8ZrK— Winthagame (@WinThaGame) August 5, 2015
Virtanen would then show his strong puck skill ability with a nifty deke through the legs of Czech defenceman David Sklenicka. Virtanen missed the net with a wrist shot. Although it looked nice live and on the replay, don't expect Virtanen to be getting away with that move at the National Hockey League level.
Virtanen's 2nd goal of the night https://t.co/e1kAUsY5kF— Winthagame (@WinThaGame) August 5, 2015
The 18-year-old Virtanen would get his second goal of the night after alertly heading straight to the net immediately after coming on to the ice for a shift and banking a shot off Czech goaltender Vitek Vanecek's glove and in.
The full highlights of the game can be found here:
Virtanen and Team Canada will square off tonight in their second match against Russian and will be skating on a line with Connor Bleackley -- Colorado Avalanche 1st rounder (23th overall in 2014); Red Deer Rebels (WHL) and Mitchell Stephens -- another Tampa Bay Lightning prospect (2nd round, 33rd overall in 2015) ; Saginaw Spirit (OHL). The game can be seen live on TSN at 10 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. PT.
Check out these highlights of Jake Virtanen at last year's World Junior Hockey Championship: